On May 7-10, more than 200
world-renowned scholars are
visiting Seoul to attend the
Korea Mont Pelerin Society
(MPS) Meeting. The MPS meeting was
jointly established by Prof. Friedrich von
Hayek, Professor and Austrian economist
Milton Friedman of the University of
Chicago in April 1947. Its founding members
consist of 39 professors, lawyers, journalists
and businessmen, but most of them
were economists by training.
The goals of the MPS are to facilitate an exchange of ideas between like-minded scholars; strengthen the principles and practice of a free society; and study the workings, virtues, and defects of a market-oriented economic system. The MPS has produced nine Nobel Memorial Prize Winners. They are Friedrich Hayek (Austria), Milton Friedman (USA), George Stigler (USA), James Buchanan (USA), Maurice Allais (France), Ronald Coase (USA), Gary Becker (USA), Vernon Smith (USA) and Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru).
The MPS meets regularly, with the general meeting held every two years and the regional meetings held annually. At times the Society holds special meetings. In September 2014, the board members of the MPS unanimously voted for Korea’s hosting of the 2017 MPS Regional meeting in Seoul in May.
In fact, the hosting of an MPS meeting by
Korea is long overdue. All economic power
countries in Asia have already hosted the
MPS meetings except the Republic of
Korea. Japan hosted the MPS Conference
in 1988 and 2008. Hong Kong organized
the meeting twice in 1978 and 2014. Even
Taiwan hosted the MPS meeting two times
in 1978 and 1988. Hosting an MPS conference
requires two to three years of preparatory
work. Inviting the speakers, deciding
the venue, and funding the expenses are all
During the first week of May, more than 300 people are coming to the Seoul conference. The main theme of the Seoul meeting is “Economic Freedom: the Road to Prosperity.” According to the MPS program schedule, there are 10 sessions. The sessions will cover a number of topics, including free market capitalism, growth and inequality, welfare and taxation, global financial economy, free market and entrepreneurship, Korean economy in the world and Korean national security and unification.
There will also be special speakers like Dr. Vaclav Klaus, former president of Czech Republic. He is going to speak on the significance of the Mont Pelerin Meeting in Korea. In addition, there will be two Nobel laureates, Prof. Peter Hansen of the University of Chicago and Prof. Vernon Smith of Chapman University. Most of the participants had long admired Korea’s economic success. They are coming to Korea with great excitement to see and feel the remarkable progress Korea has made.
In the plenary sessions, the speakers and panelist will discuss various issues including the conceptual relationship between political inequality and income inequality. They argue that economic inequality per se is neither good nor bad and that if the government aims at more political
will raise economic inequality.
Another issue that will catch the attention of the audience is the adoption of a new macroeconomic indicator, the GO (Gross Output) or GDE (Gross Domestic Expenditure). The idea is to remedy the weakness of the conventional GDP (Gross Domestic Product) indicator which fails to measure entire business activities within a specified period. They argue that supporting business activities rather than household consumption would be a lot more effective in expanding jobs. They will specifically demonstrate how to construct a new times series for the GO or GDE.
The 2017 MPS Seoul Conference overlaps with Korea’s presidential election. The participants understand that Korea is now at a crossroads. Depending on the result of the presidential election on May 9, the Korean economy will be able to maintain steady growth or will fluctuate with great volatility under increased political uncertainties.
Although the MPS Seoul Meeting has not started yet, many participants are telling us that whoever becomes the next president, they hope Korea will prosper economically and they will try their best to help us achieve economic affluence under free enterprise capitalism.
At this point, I strongly believe that the MPS speakers will bring special messages for Korean people. As the Foreign Investment Ombudsman and co-chair of the Organizing Committee for the MPS Seoul Meeting, I would like to extend my heartfelt welcome and gratitude to them for providing us with insight, wisdom and policy suggestions for Korea’s continued economic growth.