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By Shahid Javed Burki, Guillermo E. Perry

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Additional info for Annual World Bank Conference on Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1998: banks and capital markets : sound financial systems for the 21st century : proceedings of a conference held in San Salvador, El Salvador

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We need to underscore two of these changesfirst, demographic changes, and second, the redefinition of the role of the state. A profound demographic change in the developed world has brought about a sharp decline in the rate of fertility over several decades, accompanied by the extension in life expectancy. Together these make for again populations and rising "dependency ratios"of retirees to active workers. When this demographic change is read with the change in the way people now view the legitimate role of the state, we begin to see the relevance of these developments for understanding the phenomenon of globalization.

The conference that we are starting here this morning will deal with institutional developmentin particular, in the financial sector. This is an appropriate time to deal with this issue. We have a great deal of ground to cover in the next couple of days, which is why I will confine my remarks to just a couple of points. I have prepared a more detailed statement that will be distributed this morning [see page 5]. The point I wish to underscore this morning concerns the progress we must make in developing institutions and promoting organizational reform in order to deal with the forces unleashed by the phenomenon we loosely refer to as globalization.

I believe that the package of policy reforms we generally refer to as the Washington Consensus did not sufficiently address the issue of institutional soundness. " I want to emphasize that financial-system soundness is undeniably important for growth and development. Employment generation and poverty reduction are not independent of the quality of financial systems. These systems are not mere channels that bridge savings and investment finance. They are information problem-solvers. As my colleague Joseph Stiglitz likes to put itand perhaps will reemphasize here this morningfinancial systems are to the economy what brains are to the human body.

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