On the first day of the SME Assembly 2016, acclaimed French economist, Professor Philippe Aghion, gave the Inaugural Schumpeter ‘Innovation in Enterprise’ Lecture, during which he warned that people in countries who do not share in the wealth created by reform, and feel ignored, will respond at the ballot box. He declared that reform must be ‘inclusive’ and spoke of the power of innovation to produce social mobility.
Philippe Aghion is the Robert C. Waggoner Professor of Economics at Harvard University, an invited professor at the Paris School of Economics, and Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics. He talked of the need for many countries to undergo fiscal and structural reform in order for them to truly prosper, but added that reform alone would not be enough – countries must still be open and innovative. Comparing the US economy with European ones, he asked the audience ‘why is Europe not growing as fast as the US; why after the crisis are we on a very low growth path in Europe; and how can you deliver growth across Europe?’, to which he responded that the US is more ‘resilient’ and growing faster than Europe for several reasons, including the fact that it has a more proactive ‘macro-policy’, is more ‘counter-cyclical’ and has a more flexible labour market.
Some European countries need structural reform, and he stated that investment in infrastructure and structural reform are complementary, and unless this reform is implemented, the disadvantaged will react accordingly. What is required is “good education and good training” in order to help them attain employment and share in wealth creation. Innovation is also key because there is a “positive relationship between innovation and social mobility”. So, he argued, we should “encourage and reward the reformers”.
Professor Philippe Aghion delivered compelling arguments as to why reform is needed and how to go about aiding European economies to grow. He left the audience with much to contemplate including the following: “If we want to revive the idea of Europe, people to love Europe, Europe has to deliver growth. If we don’t deliver growth, it is over”.
The lecture was the first of the annual Schumpeter Innovation in Enterprise lecture series and is now available to watch here (37mins).
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