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4 - Trends in the International Financial System

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 October 2021

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Summary

On 25 November 1986, economist and former Prime Minister of France Raymond Barre gave the 7th Singapore Lecture after being welcomed by Senior Minister S. Rajaratnam. Professor Barre was the third of three eminent economists to give a Singapore Lecture, starting with Professor Milton Friedman in 1980. Professor Barre's lecture is a very lucid analysis of the systemic risks inherent to the post-Bretton Woods international financial system. A decade prior to the cataclysmic Asian Financial Crisis centred in Southeast Asia, it serves as a timely reminder of the power and economic and political risks of global financial flows.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am very grateful to the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and to its Director, Professor Sandhu, for the kind invitation to deliver the Singapore Lecture 1986. I thank the Senior Minister, Mr Rajaratnam, for introducing me with such witty and gracious words. Mr Minister, I am not Godot because I am here; I am an economist—but I do not know whether I am an optimist or a pessimist. I am an economist who has to face facts, and the facts are strong and problematic. I have had to face facts in the European Community, I have had to face facts as Prime Minister of my country. And based on my experiences, I feel that the main quality of an economist should be humility. He tries to solve problems but he is not sure to succeed. What is important is neither optimism nor pessimism, but lucidity. And I will try tonight to be lucid about the problems which I have chosen to discuss.

Firstly, let me say that I am honoured and pleased to address such a distinguished audience, in a country which, despite its small size, plays a very important role in this region under the leadership of its Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. It is an example of hard work, innovation, and adaptability. It has reaped the fruits of its continuous effort. May I express today, to Singapore, one of the dragons of Southeast Asia, all my wishes for the same success in the future.

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Publisher: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
Print publication year: 2020

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