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Rana Foroohar
Rana Foroohar
Financial Times Columnist • Author, Makers and Takers
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Rana Foroohar
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Global Business Columnist at The Financial Times and Global Economic Analyst at CNN, Rana Foroohar covers the intersection of business, economics, politics, and foreign affairs. In her weekly column, Foroohar provides insight on the shifts occurring in globalization, the political economy, and the digital economy.

Her first book, Makers and Takers: How Wall Street Destroyed Main Street, was a finalist for the 2016 FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award. 

Foroohar frequently profiles movers and shakers in finance and business, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gross, Howard Shultz, Mary Barra, Carl Icahn, and Fed chair Janet Yellen. Her high-level yet accessible analysis has made her a sought-after commentator on influential programs such as Fareed Zakaria GPS, CNNI, and Face the Nation.

The former Economics Columnist and Assistant Managing Editor for TIME, Foroohar has penned numerous cover stories and essays on China and the next global recession, Europe’s economic crisis, and what the rise of "localnomics” means for American business.

For 13 years Foroohar served as the deputy editor in charge of international business and economics for Newsweek and headed up coverage for the annual Davos special issue. She spent six years as Newsweek’s European correspondent based in London, covering business news throughout Europe and the Middle East.

Foroohar chairs panel discussions with world leaders, intellectuals, and economists at the World Economic Forum and elsewhere, including a Harvard Business School program on improving U.S. competitiveness.

The recipient of awards and fellowships from institutions such as the Johns Hopkins School of International Affairs and the East West Center, Foroohar is a graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University, and a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Speaking Topics
THINGS THAT WORRY ME — AND THINGS THAT DON'T — IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY

Uncertainty and risk are everywhere you look in the global economy. But some risk factors matter more than others. What are the events on the horizon that could truly effect global economic growth, and which risk factors are overblown? Drawing from her on the ground global reporting, Foroohar analyzes and explains the things that worry her — across both geographies and sectors — and the things that don’t. She will cover topics like the rise of political populism, China’s economy, the global real estate market, the future of the EU, the nature of the US recovery, technological disruption, interest rates and the divergence of growth in emerging markets, laying out the patterns in the world economy that leaders and investors should really be paying attention to.

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The rise of the robots

Throughout history, new technology has always been a net creator of jobs and prosperity. But in recent years, technology has begun disrupting society, politics and our economy at an unprecedented scale and speed. The result has been growing fear that technologies like A.I., robots and big data software will dehumanize the workforce and leave average citizens less well off. The truth is, of course, more nuanced – technology will change how companies, consumers and workers operate (30 percent of the tasks done by 60 percent of global workers will be done via AI, software or robots in the next few years) but it will also create fresh opportunities in surprising parts of the labor market, as well as profoundly changing the landscape for job seekers, labor policy makers, and corporate leaders. With deep data and on the ground reporting, Foroohar decodes how cutting edge technologies will change the very nature and meaning of work over the coming years, as humans and robots learn to coexist.  

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The Wall Street/Main Street Divide – and How to Fix It

Financial markets were set up to help business. That’s how Adam Smith envisioned capitalism working — Wall Street was the helpmate for Main Street, allocating capital to help business, and thus the economy, grow. But today, something is broken in that equation. As Foroohar writes in her award-winning book Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business, only 15% of cash washing around the financial system actually ends up in the real economy that businesses operate in. The rest is part of a closed loop of unproductive financial speculation. Finance has gotten rich — it’s an industry that creates 4% of jobs but takes 30% of corporate profits. But many other industries have suffered; fewer businesses are being started, and companies are under huge pressure to provide “shareholder value,” which often forces CEOs to make decisions that favor short term profit making over longer term growth. We’re at a tipping point – unless we fix things, we’ll see lower returns, flat growth, and more political populism.

The good news: we have the tools and the technologies to create Capitalism 2.0. Foroohar will explain how the economy got where it is today, and how we can fix things, by rethinking the rules of our financial markets, incentivizing longer term corporate thinking, and making sure that a new wave of disruptive technology creates real, shared Main Street growth, rather than the superficial, market driven kind. 

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DATA: THE NEW OIL

The world’s most valuable commodity isn’t cash, or real estate or even natural resources – it’s our own personal data. Consider that already, 80 percent of corporate wealth lives in just 10 percent of IP rich companies. The most powerful of those – the giant platform firms like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Netflix (along with their Chinese counter-parts like Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) aren’t so much innovators as they are data aggregators. Thanks to network effects, the more data they collect on all of us, the richer and more powerful they grow. These companies give us incredible products and services, often times for free. Yet these firms also pose huge new challenges for things like anti-trust policy, job creation, tax policy, patent protection, privacy, and our political economy. When commerce is done in data, not dollars, the rules of economic gravity are suspended.

Who are the winners and losers in this brave new world of data? Which industry might be disrupted next? Calling on reporting from her series on Big Tech for the Financial Times, Foroohar will lay out the shape of this new data-driven economy, how it will differ regionally (watch for a “Splinternet” between the US/Europe and China), and how companies can prepare themselves to survive and thrive in the 21st century data-driven economy.  

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INNOVATION 2.0

How to improve American economic competitiveness is a perennial topic of debate. We talk about reforming education, building better infrastructure, and cutting red tape. But we hardly ever speak of a deeper and more endemic problem – how American business itself has moved away from its roots in technologically based innovation, and towards a culture of short term balance sheet management, which is threatening not only the long term profitability of many businesses, but the viability of our economy. How can we bring the focus of American business away from quarterly profit taking, and back towards the idea based innovation culture that made our economy great? Foroohar will look at lessons that can be taken from winning businesses and economic models in both the US and abroad. 

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WHY EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT CHINA IS WRONG

China is on track to overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest economy within the next few years. Yet much of what we think we know about the Middle Kingdom is wrong. Far from being a confident aggressor, the Chinese are in the midst of the most precarious moment in their own economic and political history since the 1980s. Chinese leaders are struggling to manage their own home grown debt crisis, over-heated real estate markets, and rising white collar unemployment, even as Chinese companies become more globally competitive and Chinese billionaires now outnumber European counterparts. China does pose huge opportunities and challenges for the U.S., but they aren’t necessarily what we think. In this speech, Foroohar exposes and corrects several myths about China.

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DIVERSITY – THE BUSINESS CASE

What’s the easiest way to boost GDP by 5-10 percent? Put more women in the workforce. While diversity is often discussed as a social issue, the real case for diversity is an economic one: growth is simply population plus productivity, and putting more women to work, at higher levels, is the fastest way to a stronger economy.

Foroohar will explain why the US has lagged behind a number of European nations in terms of female labor force participation, and why the most successful firms are those that are finding ways to tap into women’s cognitive diversity to get a competitive edge. She’ll look at the labor and consumption patterns that favor women, and lay out which nations and industries are best leveraging them. Female workers and consumers are now poised to drive the post-recession world economy, thanks to an estimated $5 trillion in new female-earned income that will be coming on line over the next five years. That growth represents the biggest emerging market in the history of the planet — more than twice the size of the two hottest developing markets, India and China, combined. Foroohar will look at how the real emerging market will reshape investment strategies, world politics, and the global economy.

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ARE COMPANIES MORE POWERFUL THAN COUNTRIES? HOW THE ROLES OF BUSINESS AND GOVERNMENT WILL MERGE IN THE FUTURE

In 2008, after Lehman Brothers fell and the financial crisis and global recession began, the conventional wisdom was that we were entering an era in which government would take back power from business. In fact, just the opposite has happened. Politicians have few solutions to the huge problems of the day – from labor bifurcation to growth and competitiveness. Markets want answers, but elected leaders have been reluctant to give them — in part because for them, nearly any sort of action poses political risk. This is a challenge for global businesses that find themselves under siege from populist leaders over issues like tax optimization, trade, and job creation. But it also presents a huge opportunity for corporate leaders and organizations that are ready to leverage their balance sheets and talents in areas like education, vocational training, information technology, urban planning, and energy efficiency. The private sector’s share of wealth relative to the public sector has never been higher. At a time when Apple has more wealth than the entire GDP of Turkey, and Facebook has more users than China has people, how can companies leverage their power for good?  In this speech, Foroohar will sketch the ways that the world’s most creative companies are taking on jobs that used to be part of the public sector and the risks and potential rewards that come with it.

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Books & Other Works
  • Makers and Takers
  • TIME cover story: 'American Capitalism's Great Crisis'
  • TIME cover story: Made in China - The Next Global Recession
  • TIME cover story: What Starbucks Knows About America
  • TIME cover story: The Mechanic: Mary Barra’s Bumpy Ride at the Wheel of GM
  • TIME cover story: The School That Will Get You a Job
  • TIME cover story: The Sixteen Trillion Dollar Woman
  • TIME cover story: Master of the Universe: Why Carl Icahn Is the Most Influential Investor in...
  • TIME cover story: The Myth of Financial Reform
  • TIME cover story: Broken City: Detroit
  • TIME cover story: 'The Wimpy Recovery'
  • TIME cover story: 'Warren Buffett Is on a Radical Track'
  • TIME cover story: 'The End of Europe'
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Testimonials
“Rana was awesome! She’s now got a big fan club in Portland. Delightful energy, sharp mind, and equally rigorous and accessible.”
World Affairs Council of Oregon
“Rana Foroohar recently delivered an informative and engaging series of talks for the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville to rave reviews. She tackles complex issues in a conversational manner, incorporating real-world, nuanced vignettes from Main Street to Wall Street. She’s fabulous! ”
World Affairs Council of Jacksonville
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