Don’t insult the populists; instead, do better!

This is a bad moment for technocracy and those of us who love it. US progressives tend to favor one of two stories to explain 2016’s populist backlash against mainstream politics. The first is a surprising rise in the number of racists; the second is a dramatic expansion in...

Searching for the kryptonite against populist superpowers

Anyone just about recovered from the Brexit shock should spare a thought for Italy. About a decade ago, many middle-class Italians considered Silvio Berlusconi, a populist billionaire convicted of bribery and tax fraud, and known globally for his “Bunga Bunga” parties, to be the worst-case scenario for their nation....

Wealth Secrets, three years on

“I do not understand what this book is supposed to be,” said the New York Times, in its review. Neither did my publishers, placing a book about income inequality in the self-help section of bookshops. And, to be fair, I was soon at a loss myself, even though I...

Political risk has come home, and we must combat it

The past decade has upended my profession almost entirely. I work in political risk, and my job is to advise companies how to manage political and economic instability. A coup in Turkey, sanctions against Russia, unrest in Venezuela, debt default in Argentina – such risk events are the bread...

The global outlook: beware falling objects

The world economy has in the past few years undergone a dramatic shift. Chinese industrial growth – for decades 10 percent or higher – has declined nearly to nil. Global commodity prices have shifted from high to low. At the same time, the U.S. dollar has surged from low...

Two decades of geopolitical analysis

[UPDATED JULY 2018] I’ve been employed to analyze geopolitics and the world economy for about twenty years now, which means, alarmingly, I’ve got a track record. (Most of my publicly-available articles are now posted on this blog.) What did I get wrong, and what did I get right? The...

A Turkish turnaround?

Most reasonable people would agree that the administration of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been heading, alarmingly, towards authoritarianism. Erdoğan has been accused of imprisoning journalists, censoring the media, attempting to exert political influence over the courts, and using the security services for his own purposes. He has...

Is China at risk of instability?

In a chapter contributed to my recent edited volume on country and political risk, Michel-Henry Bouchet of the Skema Business School makes the case for a new indicator of political risk: capital flight. He writes: “when attempting to understand the complexities of country and political risk, it is perhaps...

The Greek crisis explained, in pictures

Between 2007 and 2012 several Eurozone countries — Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain — needed bailouts. In each case, the recipient countries threatened that they would leave the Eurozone if the bailout terms were too harsh. Germany and the other AAA-rated European countries countered with threats to withhold the bailouts if...

Is a wave of sovereign defaults on the way?

The sovereign debtor that would win hands down a nomination as “most likely to fail” is surely Greece, which has just threatened to default on its next payment to the IMF. But Greece could be a distraction – history suggests sovereign default risk is rising elsewhere, and that a...

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