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A highly regarded global thinker, Nader Mousavizadeh advises some of the world’s leading corporations, investors, and decision-makers in government, delivering actionable macro strategies and solutions. He is Co-founder and Co-CEO of Macro Advisory Partners. His sage insights into geopolitical and macroeconomic issues and trends can be seen regularly in The Financial Times, The New York Times, and Reuters.
With a unique mix of senior roles in diplomacy, investment banking, and advisory, Mousavizadeh combines rich personal anecdotes with deep analytical judgments about how organizations can navigate the risks and opportunities at the nexus of markets, politics, and policy in the global economy.
Before serving as CEO of global analysis and advisory firm Oxford Analytica, he was Founder and Managing Director of Archipelago Partners, advising corporations and governments in emerging markets. As an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, he worked in the Financial Industries M&A group in New York and in Europe.
Mousavizadeh served as Special Assistant to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and a UN Political Officer in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He co-wrote Annan's memoir, Interventions: A Life in War and Peace, a Washington Post 2012 Notable Work of Nonfiction.
Elected a "Global Leader for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum, Mousavizadeh is a member of the Forum’s Geopolitical Risk Council. He is a widely published contributor on global affairs to The Times of London, BBC, and Foreign Policy. A former associate editor for The New Republic, he edited the magazine's coverage of the war in the former Yugoslavia into The Black Book of Bosnia. Barron's featured him in a wide-ranging interview about global risks.
A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, where he received his MA in international relations, Mousavizadeh received his MBA as a Sloan Fellow at MIT.
In his Reuters column, Mousavizadeh analyzes geopolitical and economic developments in what he refers to as an “archipelago world.” As he has explained, “A deeper – and more radical – shift is at work in the politics of the global economy. A fragmentation of power, capital and ideas is creating a new map of the world with lasting implications for investors and policymakers alike.”
TRUMP AND THE FRAGMENTING GLOBAL LANDSCAPE
The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States represents a material rupture in the macro environment for investors and corporates.
The forces of uncertainty and volatility that have defined the fragmentation of the global economy predicted in Nader Mousavizadeh’s idea of an “Archipelago World” will now be accelerated. For every boost to the U.S. economy coming from tax cuts or infrastructure investments, new sources of potential instability will arise from possible conflicts over trade, security, and immigration. A world-wide wave of populism and nationalism will redefine the landscape for investors and business and place an even greater premium on macro diligence. No global political or economic relationship is stable — and every assumption about markets, policy, or regulation needs questioning.
In this speech, Nader Mousavizadeh’s judgement on the global shifts to come — and their implications for investors and companies — will provide a valuable compass in uncharted waters.
FORCES THAT WILL MOVE MARKETS IN 2017 AND BEYOND: THE GEOPOLITICS OF THE GLOBAL ECONOMY
From the Middle East to Russia, China, and the evolving role of the U.S. in the world, dramatic geopolitical changes are transforming the global marketplace. Understanding the geopolitical drivers of change is essential to investors, CEOs, and decision-makers seeking opportunities in new markets — and navigating their impact in developed markets too.
The intersection of politics and economics, government and finance, is increasingly where the fate of investments and businesses will be decided, requiring an understanding of both sides of the coin. The international balance of power has shifted and fractured, challenging the fundamental assumption of globalization as a force for convergence. What if, instead, we’re facing a future of divergence — strategically, economically, politically? Governments everywhere will increasingly integrate economic and political interests, sharpening rivalries and encouraging protectionism. From divisions over Central Bank monetary policy to G-20 paralysis over Syria, global coordination is giving way to competition in an “Archipelago World” where each state increasingly is out for itself in a zero-sum game of power and interests.
Every business and organization with exposure to global markets will require a macro strategy for success — and geopolitics will be at the center of it. Just as it doesn’t make sense to think about politics without economics, it is equally evident that economics is bound up with politics in new and complex ways. Finance ministers, Central Bank governors, and multilateral institutions are seeing the presence (or absence) of leadership in the political sphere determine the fates of the best-laid plans and programs.
THE NEW RULES OF POWER: HOW POWER IS EARNED — AND LOST — IN THE 21ST CENTURY
The global power shift is often told as a story of moving from West to East, North to South. What is more significant in the day-to-day life of leaders in business, politics, and society is the fragmentation of power from hierarchies to networks. Even more, the fact that power today must be earned and re-earned as never before.
A revolution in the purpose of power is underway, and every leader will be affected by it. Power’s purpose has never been so contested or controversial as it is today. Legitimacy is the specter that now haunts the halls of power. From the struggle for control at the top of China’s Communist Party, to the deepening divide between Wall Street and Main Street, to the Arab revolutions and counter-revolutions and the disruption catalyzed by technology across a whole range of industries — what we’re seeing is the universal demand that power be wielded in a legitimate and accountable manner. An age of 24/7 scrutiny and radical transparency means that every leader must justify his or her source of power, why they are allowed to wield it, and how they aim to widen its impact.
Globalization, demographics, prosperity, technology, and education have all made the path to power for leaders more rigorous and more hazardous than ever before. Genuine legitimacy must now be earned and re-earned through the accountable exercise of power. While the new rules of power are a challenge to leaders everywhere, they nevertheless hold the potential to unlock the creativity and innovation of hundreds of millions of people given a real stake in the future of their societies. Understanding its new rules is essential to success and sustainable leadership in the 21st century.
NAVIGATING TODAY'S GLOBAL MARKETS: MASTERING UNCERTAINTY
A state of permanent market volatility and diverging growth outlooks in Europe, Asia, and the United States requires investors and business leaders everywhere to seek opportunities in lesser-known markets and geographies. Diligencing with discipline, rigour, and independent judgment the political, economic, and regulatory environment in high-growth developing markets is increasingly recognized as outcome-determining — far more so than the traditional financial, legal, and accounting diligence to which decision-makers long have been accustomed.
The question of whether it is China’s strengths or its weaknesses that will present the greatest threat to global order; how the new era of economic warfare between Russia and the West will destabilize Europe politically and economically; the fundamental decision between political union and a slow break-out of the EU facing European leaders with the ever-returning Greece crisis; the power of social media to upend traditional sources of authority and legitimacy; the event risk surrounding the many fissures and barely suppressed conflicts of the Middle East — these macro questions and many more will affect the success of leaders in every company and institution.
This is the new art of diligence that leaders everywhere have to master.
LEADERSHIP IN TIMES OF TURMOIL
Leadership has rarely been as necessary or elusive as it is in today’s environment of political upheaval and economic crisis. Corporate and business leaders have to plan for a world in which the price of oil can be $140 a barrel or $40 a barrel. Political leaders have to plan for a world in which conflicts emerge from unexpected corners — an ally one day can turn into an adversary on another. Volatility at levels few decision-makers in government, business, and finance have experienced before. Uncertainty as far as the eye can see in the realms of economics, geopolitics, regulation, public policy.
What is clear today is that a condition many had expected to be transitory – the power shift from West to East, the rebalancing of national economies, the realignment of sovereign and private sector interests, the re-positioning of power relationships – is, in fact, here to stay. Turmoil as the rule, not the exception. Change as a constant, not an aberration.
For corporate leaders, investors, and policy-makers this is a decision-making environment with a far greater premium on adaptability, comfort with change, responsiveness to challenges, and resilience in the face of set-backs and surprises.
HOW THE ENERGY REVOLUTION IS TRANSFORMING GLOBAL POLITICS AND ECONOMICS
The world of energy is being transformed by technological innovations that have pushed the boundaries of how and where fossil fuels can be accessed – upending the 21st century energy prospect from one of scarcity to one of abundance.
The implications of the energy revolution are as dramatic as they are wide-ranging – from the future of the U.S. economy, to new industries formed and old industries given a new lease on life. In the realm of geopolitics, it is creating new freedoms and new dependencies, shifting a century-long Western dependence on Middle East oil towards a world in which far more of the oil leaving the Persian Gulf will be sailing East rather than West.
Will this deepening energy bond with China lead to a more stable Gulf region, or a more volatile one? Will a more balanced U.S. set of strategic priorities lead the parties of the Middle East to find new grounds for co-existence, or result in an even more fearful imbalance of power? Will Russia propel its gas-based influence over Europe for another decade, or will a world of energy plenty lead to oil prices incompatible with its centralized form of rule?
Whatever the region or industry, state or company, there is no question that the energy revolution has remade the strategic landscape for competition and influence.
THE NEW SILK ROAD: SHIFTS IN TRADE, INVESTMENT AND POLITICS
Nader Mousavizadeh examines the new flows of trade, investment and influence running from Asia through Latin America to Africa, increasingly avoiding the West altogether, with important implications for the future of the global economy as well as power relations.
WINNERS AND LOSERS IN THE NEW GLOBAL CONTEST
The geopolitical and macroeconomic turmoil of the past few years has upended old structures of power and leadership. New players among states and companies are emerging as winners, and the price paid by the losers is becoming more dramatic and more sudden.
What makes a winner of a country or a company in the 21st century? What makes a loser? How important is global power to the success of states or companies? Is Putin’s increasingly chauvinist, revanchist Russia weaker or stronger after its break with the West over Ukraine? If the predictions of U.S. decline are exaggerated, then what will propel the next stage of U.S. global impact and influence, and how will it be sustained? If China’s slowdown is more dramatic and less managed than most observers believe, what will this do to the future stability of the world’s largest country and power relations in the economically critical region of East Asia? If the Middle East increasingly finds the U.S. less invested in its energy markets due to America’s own growing fossil fuel abundance, will that make the region more stable or less? And will the new Pivotal Powers of the region — Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran — create a new concert or embark on an uncontrollable rivalry?
For states and companies looking to uncover the new alchemy of success in the 21st century, understanding these changing global forces and answering these questions are the essential starting point.
THE MIDDLE EAST'S HISTORIC UPHEAVAL: CAUSES & CONSEQUENCES
The geopolitics of the Middle East are experiencing a historic transformation with dramatic consequences for the price of oil, the future of the Arab monarchies, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Western interests, and nuclear proliferation. The Syria crisis is only the most acute instance of a generation-long battle between order and anarchy, authoritarianism and democracy in a region of a world whose challenges never can be ignored.
With the democratic genie out of the bottle, Arab regimes are confronting the legacy of large, young, educated populations without prospects for education, adequate governance or economic advancement and are facing a reckoning with consequences for investors, CEOs and decision-makers.
Now, against the rise of Iran and its allies in Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood has to be set the emergence of new, secular, youth movements for democratic governance, leaving the old paradigms in the dust. For the US, this will mean rethinking its entire strategy of relying on authoritarian strong-men to secure its two key priorities – the flow of oil and the security of Israel – and instead engage in a far more fragmented, piecemeal way with the rising powers of the region, both among and within states. For the rest of the world, this will present opportunities to form new economic and political alliances, leading to a more likely proliferation of nuclear weapons in a more nationalistic era of populist governance.
Managed correctly, this period could signal the beginning of the Arab world’s inclusion in a global trend for popular governance. Managed poorly, it could trigger a new and dangerous era for a region with long-term demographic and economic challenges and hostile neighbors.
THE GLOBAL ECONOMY IN AN ARCHIPELAGO WORLD
After a few years of sovereign debt crises, tsunamis, nuclear disasters, revolutions, uprisings, and military interventions (and the list could go on), it would be natural to see this emerging order as inherently unstable. Volatility may seem like the new norm, but we’re more likely seeing a turbulent transition to a more resilient, and more diverse, global economy governed by national interests.
The old stability was as much an illusion in Mubarak’s Egypt as it is in a global economy structured for the benefit of a few dominant, but deeply indebted powers. A deeper and more radical shift is at work in the politics of the global economy. A fragmentation of power, capital and ideas is creating a new map of the world – with lasting implications for investors and policymakers alike.
What we’re seeing is an emerging world of sovereign states vertically integrating national interests across the public and private sectors – and then going out strategically to compete for resources, growth, and job creation. Having previously understood global interdependence as a reason for horizontal integration across markets and regions, states as diverse as Finland, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and Mexico are now pursuing distinct, often bilateral strategies for economic and political security.
This is the new dynamic of global competition — where a multi-speed global economy will increasingly be mirrored by a multi-dimensional global politics. This is a Great Game worthy of the name and the winners will be those states and corporations increasingly seeking their own success irrespective of traditional boundaries of geography, ideology, interest, and alliances. An Archipelago World.