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International Authorities at Reuters Forum at Columbia To Analyze Widening Gap In Wealth of Nations

More than two dozen experts in international economics will analyze the widening wealth gap between and within nations in this year's Reuters Forum at Columbia University.

The Forum will hold seven timely Wednesday evening lectures and debates between Jan. 29 and April 30 at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism. The Reuters Forum, on critical issues in international economics, began in 1991 with a grant from The Reuter Foundation and is produced by the Journalism School. The sessions are free and open to the public by advance registration.

Influential players in international development who will debate the path to balanced, equitable growth in the emerging global economy include Alice Amsden of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Nancy Barry of Women's World Banking; attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.; Wally N'Dow, Secretary General of Habitat II; Mancur Olson of the University of Maryland; journalist P.J. O'Rourke; Ismail Serageldin of The World Bank; Charles Swett of the Pentagon and Muhammad Yunus, managing director of the Grameen Bank, Bangladesh.

"At a time when renewed interest surrounding the mystery of growth in the global economy has captured the attention of leading economists, academicians and development experts, The Reuters Forum will bring together the innovative thinkers of the day to address some of the most compelling questions surrounding growth," said Terri Thompson, director of the forum, who is also director of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship Program in Economics and Business Journalism, a mid-career study program at the Columbia Journalism School.

Among some of the questions to be addressed at this year's Reuters Forum: Do uneven trade and labor policies create unfair advantage? Will the World Trade Organization become the new global cop? Is the information revolution a liberating or exclusionary force for the world's poor? Will new technology further widen the North-South gap in access to information? Is widespread corruption at public and private levels impeding growth in many economies? What is the role of multinational corporations in encouraging the long-term viability of developing economies? Will the competition for private capital flows determine who the winners and losers will be?

The media and public are invited to attend the debates, which will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the main lecture hall of the Journalism School, 116th Street and Broadway, New York City. Following are their dates, topics and participants:

January 29 -- GLOBAL FINANCIAL INTEGRATION: Closing the Wealth Gap, moderated by Lawrence Chimerine, managing director and chief economist, Economic Strategy Institute, with Frederic Mishkin, executive vice president and director of research for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; P.J. O'Rourke, foreign affairs editor of Rolling Stone magazine, and Dr. Muhammad Yunus, managing director of the Grameen Bank, Bangladesh, India.

February 12 -- FREE MARKETS: Will Reform Benefit the World's Poor?, moderated by Dr. Alice Amsden, professor of political economy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with Richard Miller, chief economics correspondent for Reuters America, and Mancur Olson, Distinguished Professor of Economics, University of Maryland.

February 26 -- INFORMATION ACCESS: Is the Internet a Democratic Tool or Instrument of Exclusion?, moderated by Adam Clayton Powell, III, vice president of technology and programs for The Freedom Forum, with Charles Swett, assistant for strategic assessment, the Pentagon.

March 12 -- HUMAN CAPITAL: Developing a Healthy and Educated Workforce, moderated by Nancy Barry, president of Women's World Banking, USA, with Pete Engardio, senior news editor of Business Week, and Anthony Freeman, director, International Labor Organization (Washington Branch).

April 2 -- GLOBAL GOVERNANCE: Who's Minding the World Economy?, moderated by Peter Morici, professor of business management, University of Maryland, with C. Michael Aho, professor of international affairs, Columbia University; George Lodge, professor, Harvard University, and Ambassador Jorge Pinto, Consulate General of Mexico in New York.

April 16 -- URBAN DEVELOPMENT: Rural Neglect?, moderated by Ray Horton, professor, Columbia Business School, with Dr. Kyu Sik Lee, principal evaluation Officer, operations evaluation department, The World Bank, and Wally N'Dow, secretary general, HABITAT II.

April 30 -- THE ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT: Strange Bedfellows?, moderated by Graciela Chichilnisky, UNESCO Professor of Information Resources and Economics, Columbia University, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., chief prosecuting attorney, Hudson Riverkeeper Fund, and Ismail Serageldin, vice president, environmentally sustainable development, The World Bank.

Students in Columbia's business, international and public affairs, law and journalism schools may enroll in The Reuters Forum for academic credit. The best articles written by them will appear in The Reuters Forum Journal, published by the University. The 1996 edition may be purchased for $6.95 and ordered by calling (212) 854-2711. For more information or to register for The Reuters Forum, call (212) 854-6840, fax (212) 854-7837 or e-mail