The discussion forum was hosted by Esko Aho, a former Finnish Prime Minister and currently a Kennedy School Senior Fellow at Harvard University.
Aho explained how Estonia and Latvia had survived their crisis at the turn of this century by reforming corporation and capital gains taxation to provide additional income for government coffers. However, Aho noted the crisis was difficult for the two nations.
“The social consequences were difficult and people were forced to tighten their belts owing to government cutbacks. Now looking at other European nations, one can say that without such effective measures unemployment and economic hardship would have continued for much longer,” Aho explained.
Finland weathered the storm
Aho also told the gathering how Finland weathered the storm of the nineties recession. Serving then as Prime Minister, Aho stressed that while the pressure to cut services was intense, it was also necessary to take care and sow the seeds of recovery.
“In practice, this meant emphasizing research and development work,” Aho explained.
Among those attending the Trilateral Commission’s meeting were Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and former CEO of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet.