The role of central governments in the global economy is the opposite of what they are used to doing. Their best service to their people is to invite in capital so they don’t have to use taxpayers’ money, to welcome corporations so they bring in jobs.
The development of a long-term vision is one of the things that governments can – and must – be good at. Having and communicating a vision is the most important thing that a government can do. Whoever is charged with the task of implementing the vision must not keep any secrets. It must be open and transparent. It must educate all sections of society on what they can and must do to make the realization of the vision a reality, and why they should do it. It should demonstrate what is “in it” for the people.
A vision must not be a mere collection of words and aspirations. It must contain clear, practical goals that can be pursued. Only by means of long-term commitment can it be affected. It demands from government a visionary approach, one that looks quite far into the future, farther than the next round of elections.
Coming up with a valid vision can be challenging. It has been made difficult in three ways. First, we now live in a borderless world, and no longer can we overemphasize the national interest first. Second, we are deeply married to IT and live in the labyrinth of cyberspace. Third, wealth creation is increasingly leveraged. A steady state growth rate of savings is no longer good enough to guarantee a safe and fun retirement at the end of a career. Borrowing from the bank, as in the previous century, is bad news for a corporation. Government must come up with and deliver a vision that attracts a lot of global investors, resulting in high multiples.