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A world-view from three very different economists 

15 January 2021

We often turn to economists to make sense of the present and predict the future. But they don’t all sing from the same hymn sheet. Each one takes the facts before them and adds their experience, their insight and their understanding to create their own vision of how things could be. Some offer reassurance, some issue warnings. All offer a view.

The Change Makers podcast had the privilege in the autumn of sitting down with three brilliant and ultimately, very different economists – each sharing their thoughts on the shape of our world and the changes they believe we should see: interviews not only about what they believe, but why they believe it.

Here’s what they had to say…

The creative economist – Lord Jim O’Neill

“Profit with purpose brings a new definition to value”

Having coined the term “BRIC” in the months following 9/11, Lord Jim O’Neill believes how we respond to a crisis can be the making of a leader or country. “Within days of a horrific event, my mind starting to wonder whether there was some underlying deeper message to the world – some parts of the world were sick of Americanization – which started the whole idea of the BRICS and changed my professional career forever.”

Now he believes the response to the Covid-19 crisis by companies offers hope for the future, especially with regards to climate change. “The pharmaceutical response by the likes of AstraZeneca and Pfizer – particularly their cooperation with each other and the way they have priced the vaccines – gives me optimism about the future. The speed at which these guys have done what they have done – the more I reflect on it I think it could be a game-changer.”

Beyond the Covid crisis, O’Neill sees plenty to be hopeful about, as companies respond to external shocks and global challenges. 

“Look at other sectors – we now have solar power businesses in the States worth more than ExxonMobil, and in the auto sector, Tesla is worth more than competitors by a considerable distance. The markets are showing a persuasive sign that if you come up with a commercially successful initiative to help beat climate change, the markets reward you very quickly.”

The eternal optimist – Dr Pippa Malmgren 

“A new world will need new definitions”

As an American policy analyst, Malmgren served as Special Assistant to President George W Bush. In the wake of the Trump administration, she sees the blurring of lines between politics, media and entertainment as a trend set to continue. 

“I’m very worried about how we’re caught up in a cycle, confusing entertainment with politics. I have a new prediction, that Trump is going to launch a media platform and it