The Free Market Road Show keeps expanding! On May 11th it was the time of Chisinau -the capital city of Moldova- to host the FMRS for the first time. And Chisinau welcomed us the best way possible: with a packed house at the Academy of Economics Studies of Moldova. Our local partner was the Naumann Foundation for South and East Europe – which did a very professional job co-organizing the event.
The first panel focused on economic growth and the possibilities for Moldova to improve its economy.
Deirdre McCloskey talked about how countries grow rich. For her, the Marxist explanation -exploitation of the working class and/or the Third World- is wrong. The explanation that savings produced a huge amount of accumulation is also not true.
So, how countries grow? McCloskey said that “what makes you rich is innovation, trade, entrepreneurship”. And she went on: “What happened in the modern world was that ordinary people were freed”.
As a historical example, Prof. McCloskey referred to Holland: “Countries like The Netherlands first become free and then become rich”.
In turn, journalist John Fund referred to the fact that many post-soviet countries have taken the opportunities provided by the collapse of the USSR. Unfortunately, that seems not to be the case of Moldova so far. However, Mr. Fund highlighted that “through the European Union there is the opportunity to trade with a huge market”. And what is more, “with the discrediting of those in power comes the opportunity of new (and better) leadership”.
Daniel Kaddik, from the Naumann Foundation said that, with the right institutions, “Moldova could be a second Estonia”.
Finally, Michael Walker, from the Fraser Institute, highlighted the positive effects of the correct policies. “If you have good policies, you have: political rights, civil rights, better levels of literacy, and greater life expectancy”.
The second panel, on entrepreneurship, provided an extraordinary opportunity: a keynote by Prince Michael von Liechtenstein.
Prince Michael sharply defined the area in which entrepreneurs work: “Entrepreneurs act in a competitive environment”. He also explained that one of the greatest enemies to entrepreneurship is risk aversion. “Many people”, said the Prince, “want to remain in their comfort zones”.
He also acknowledged that there cannot be entrepreneurship without failure. “Failure is an ingredient of entrepreneurial condition. Failure has to be accepted”.
Finally, Barbara Kolm -the Director of the FMRS- expressed that “an entrepreneur is not a ‘mean capitalist’ but a person who takes responsibility for themselves and others”.