Delivered by Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund, London, February 3, 2014
Good evening. It is a great honour to be invited to deliver this year’s Dimbleby Lecture, and I would like to thank the BBC and the Dimbleby family for so kindly inviting me—and especially David Dimbleby for his warm words of introduction.
This evening, I would like to talk about the future. Before looking ahead, however, I would like to look back—for the clues to the future can often be read from the tea leaves of the past.
I invite you to cast your minds back to the early months of 1914, exactly a century ago. Much of the world had enjoyed long years of peace, and giant leaps in scientific and technological innovation had led to path-breaking advances in living standards and communications. There were few barriers to trade, travel, or the movement of capital. The future was full of potential.
Yet, 1914 was the gateway to thirty years of disaster—marked by two world wars and the Great Depression. It was the year when everything started to go wrong. What happened?
What happened was that the birth of the modern industrial society brought about massive dislocation. The world was rife with tension—rivalry between nations, upsetting the traditional balance of power, and inequality between the haves and have-nots, whether in the form of colonialism or the sunken prospects of the uneducated working classes.