Vikas Shah MBE Interviews the world's leading thinkers, and the people shaping the century.

What the Volcano Taught Us about Business

April 20 (Bloomberg) “Stranded flyers created a surge in demand for travel industry Web sites and remote conferencing services as a shutdown of many flights in Europe continued through a sixth day.” Nothing Broke… That’s Important. The eruption of Eyjafjallajokull really caught the world off-guard, and created the levels of profound disruption which only natural disasters and war can.  In most such crises (such as in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks) we used…

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The Moral Hazard of Short Term Attitudes

In the fields of political science and economics, you will commonly see discussion of the “Principal-Agent Problem” (also known as agency dilemma) which deals with the outcomes of situations of conflicted interest, or asymmetric information, where (for example) an agent (such as an investment manager) acting for a principal (such as an investment bank) may have their own goals and objectives versus the interests of the principal. In classic management theory, the tools used to…

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The Arrogance of Globalisation

On March 29th 2010, The Economist reported that, “When the trials of four Rio Tinto employees opened in Shanghai last week, their guilty pleas to the first of the charges, of bribe-taking, dampened hopes that the matter might be settled without any severe penalties. Even so, the harshness of sentences handed down on Monday March 29th was unexpected. The mining giant’s four executives—three Chinese, one an Australian of Chinese descent—were jailed for between seven and…

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Business Without Borders

In a statement issued on March 22nd 2010, Human Rights Watch said, “Google’s decision to stop censoring its Chinese search engine is a strong step in favour of freedom of expression and information, and an indictment of the Chinese government’s insistence on censorship of the internet…” They continued, “China is one of the world’s largest economies, but hundreds of millions of Chinese internet users are denied the basic access to information that people around the…

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Economic Dependencies and Disasters

On March 11, 2011 at 05:46 UTC, Japan was hit with a Magnitude 9.0 Mega-Quake (the fourth largest earthquake ever recorded) .  To put the size of this quake in perspective, it was 8,000 times more powerful than the one which devastated Christchurch (New Zealand) in February 2011, and around twice as powerful as the 2004 Indian Earthquake and Tsunami which killed over 220,000 people.  The earthquake moved Honshu 2.4 m (7.9 ft) east and…

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Global Health

In this interview, we speak to Sir Richard Feachem, who is Professor of Global Health at both the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of California, Berkeley, and Director of the Global Health Group. Sir Feachem was also the founding Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which has saved over 4.9 million lives globally. We discuss the key issues facing health in the developed and developing world, strategies to eradicate some of the most prevalent conditions, and the future of global health.

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The New Danger of Financial & Economic Bubbles

Recent economic events have brought the concept of financial bubbles from academic texts to the forefront of economic and commercial thought.  Whereas economies used to be slow laborious creatures, the globalisation of capital markets, and growth of technology within them, has increased the ‘speed’ of economies to a pace never seen before. The New Structure of Bubbles The Financial Times define a bubble as existing “….When the prices of securities or other assets rise so…

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Learning Lessons from Crisis

“Just two days after Haiti’s earthquake, Leonel Fernández, the president of the neighbouring Dominican Republic, ordered a helicopter to fly him over the border for an unannounced visit. He was worried that his Haitian counterpart and friend, René Préval, was still incommunicado. What made this neighbourly gesture remarkable was that the two countries that share the island of Hispaniola have long been divided by mutual suspicion. During a previous term in the 1990s, Mr Fernández…

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The Toyota Recall

“[Shares in] Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest carmaker, fell in Tokyo as it expanded a U.S. recall by more than 1 million vehicles to 5.35 million, adding to concerns its reputation for quality may be permanently tarnished.” The article continues, “…Toyota’s “reputation for long-term quality is finished,” said Maryann Keller, senior adviser at Casesa Shapiro Group LLC in New York, a strategic adviser to the auto industry. ‘People aren’t going to buy Toyotas, period….

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Dictators, Democracy and Some Home Truths…

As Foreign Policy Magazine reports, “Equatorial Guinea’s economy depends almost entirely on oil, which generated revenues last year of well over $4 billion, giving it a per capita annual income of $37,900, on par with Belgium.” While this has given the country’s ruler (Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo) an estimated net worth of over $600m (which in reality will be many magnitudes higher) it has left the population impoverished with one in three dying before the…

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