It’s easy to overlook the underlying strategic forces of war, to see it solely as a series of errors, accidents, and emotions gone awry. It’s also easy to forget that war shouldn’t happen—and most of the time it doesn’t. Around the world, there are millions of hostile rivalries, yet only a fraction erupt into violence, a fact too many accounts overlook. Christopher Blattman is the Ramalee E. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies at the University of Chicago. He is co-lead the university’s Development Economics Center and the Obama Foundation Scholars Program. In his new book, Why We Fight, Christopher Blattman reminds us that most rivals loathe one another in peace. War is too costly to fight, so enemies almost always find it better to split the pie than spoil it for everyone or struggle over thin slices. In those rare instances when fighting ensues, we should ask: What kept rivals from compromise? He combines decades of economics, political science, psychology, and real-world interventions to lay out the root causes and remedies for war, showing that violence is not the norm; that there are only five reasons why conflict wins over compromise; and how peacemakers turn the tides through tinkering, not transformation. In this interview, I speak to Professor Christopher Blattman about why we fight, the root causes of war, and how we can effectively move to peace. We talk about how to build resilient societies, how best to detect fragility, and the remedies that shift incentives away from violence and get parties back to dealmaking.

Thought Economics

Ousman Umar is a shaman’s son, born in a small village in Ghana, and his mother died giving birth to him. The traditions of the Wala tribe dictate that this means the baby is cursed and must be abandoned and left to die. Fortunately, Ousman’s father was able to use his position as a shaman to save his son’s life. Ousman grew up working the fields, setting traps in the jungle, and living off the land. But he dreamed of a different life. So, when he was only twelve years old, he left his village and began what would become a five-year journey to Europe. On a path rife with violence, exploitation, and racism, Ousman also encountered friendship, generosity, and hope. In his memoir, North to Paradise, Ousman tells his visceral true story about the stark realities of life along the most dangerous route traversed across Africa; it is also a portrait of extraordinary resilience in the face of unimaginable challenges, the beauty of kindness in strangers, and the power of giving back. In this interview, I speak to Ousman Umar about this treacherous boyhood journey from a rural village in Ghana, to the streets of Barcelona, and the path that led him home. We discuss why he, and so many, decide to migrate. We talk about the perils and realities of migration, and how we, as a society can deliver better aid, and stop the needless deaths caused by migration.

Thought Economics

OpenSea is the largest marketplace for NFTs and user-owned digital items. The platform’s more than 600,000 users collectively have 2 million collections containing over 80 million NFTs. The platform is now valued at over $13.3billion and has attracted many of the world’s most prominent investors including: Mark Cuban, Tim Ferris, Ben Silberman, Alexis Ohanian, Balaji Srinivasan, Naval Ravikant, Justin Kan and Ashton Kutcher alongside funds including Andreesen Horowitz, Y Combinator and Founders Fund. In this interview, I speak to Devin Finzer, Co-Founder & CEO of OpenSea. We talk about the potential of blockchain, crypto technologies and NFTs. We discuss the NFT revolution, the potential use cases of NFTs, how they’re transforming the creator economy and creating opportunities for collectors and makers. We also talk about the technology behind NFTs, and Devin’s life as one of the most successful technology entrepreneurs in the world.

Thought Economics

What trapped humanity in poverty for most of our existence? What sparked the massive metamorphosis in living standards over the past two centuries? And what led to the emergence of vast inequality across the globe? The answers to these questions have the power to transform how we view our past and how we shape our futures. Professor Oded Galor (Herbert Goldberger Professor of Economics, Brown University) is an intellectual detective who has spent his entire career investigating the deep determinants of humanity’s development process. He is the founder of “unified growth theory,” which revolutionized our understanding of the forces that have governed the journey of humanity, and the impact that adaptation, diversity, and inequality have had on human development throughout the entire course of human existence. In this interview I speak to Professor Oded Galor about his book The Journey of Humanity; The Origins of Wealth and Inequality. We discuss why humans are the only species to have escaped the subsistence trap. We discuss the reasons for the astonishing progress of human civilisation, why wealth and inequality came to be, and how understanding our past could give us a better future.

Thought Economics

Joe Zammit-Lucia is an entrepreneur, investor, leadership advisor and commentator. He is an investor and Non-Executive Director in entrepreneurial ventures and advises senior business and institutional leaders on leadership in contemporary culture and writes for many of the world’s most prestigious newspapers. In this interview, I speak to Joe Zammit-Lucia about whether business can ever be apolitical. We discuss how modern businesses must be the visible reflection of social values and cultural trends (which shape the environment in which businesses operate), and how an increasingly politicised stakeholder group (from customers to investors) are expecting companies to have perspective on political issues. Markets themselves are politically constructed, and investors increasingly focus on corporations’ political positions – be they environmental or societal.

Thought Economics

Glenn Hubbard is the Dean Emeritus of Columbia Business School and former Chairman of the US Council of Economic Advisers. In The Wall and the Bridge, Hubbard proves that walls never lead to prosperity and almost always portend collapse. While change can be extremely difficult, it is inevitable. Ultimately, the only way to propel ourselves towards tremendous technological, cultural, and economic progress is to build bridges—accessible to and created by all. Bridges level the playing field by preparing those needing the skills for the new economy while providing the infrastructure for them to reconnect with today’s workplace. It is because walls delay needed adaptations to the ever-changing world, they are essentially backward-looking and ultimately destined to fail. In this interview, I speak to Glenn Hubbard about our economic model, why we need to build bridges instead of walls, and how we can create an inclusive economy that allows everyone to flourish and grow.

Thought Economics

Disasters are inherently hard to predict. But when catastrophe strikes, we ought to be better prepared than the Romans were when Vesuvius erupted or medieval Italians when the Black Death struck. We have science on our side, after all. Yet the responses of many developed countries to a new pathogen from China were badly bungled. Why? While populist rulers certainly performed poorly in the face of the pandemic, Niall Ferguson argues that more profound pathologies were at work – pathologies already visible in our responses to earlier disasters. Drawing from multiple disciplines, including economics and network science, Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe offers not just a history but a general theory of disaster. As Ferguson shows, governments must learn to become less bureaucratic if we are to avoid the impending doom of irreversible decline. In this interview, I speak to Niall Ferguson about how we should think about disasters & catastrophe and how society can (and should) be better prepared.

Thought Economics

In her new book THE LONELY CENTURY: How to Restore Human Connection in a World That’s Pulling Apart, renowned thinker and economist Noreena Hertz investigates how radical changes to the workplace, mass migration to cities, technology’s ever greater dominance of our lives, and decades of neoliberal policies that placed self-interest above the collective good have coalesced to  create a society in which loneliness, atomisation and isolation prevail – which COVID has only amplified. Hertz provides an empowering and inspiring vision for how to mitigate this, reconnect with each other and come together again. Hertz combines a decade of research with first-hand reporting that takes her from ‘renting a friend’ in New York to family-friendly Belgian far-right festivals, from elderly women knitting bonnets for their robot caregivers in Japan to Ivy League colleges running ‘How to Read a Face in Real Life’ remedial classes. What she uncovers is a global population feeling more and more alienated and isolated. In this exclusive interview, I speak to Noreena Hertz about the causes of our loneliness epidemic, the consequences for each and every one of us, and what we can do to restore human connection in a world that’s pulling us apart.

Thought Economics

Kate Raworth is a renegade economist focused on exploring the economic mindset needed to address the 21st century’s social and ecological challenges and is the creator of the Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries. Her internationally acclaimed framework of Doughnut Economics has been widely influential amongst sustainable development thinkers, progressive businesses and political activists, and she has presented it to audiences ranging from the UN General Assembly to the Occupy movement. Her book, Doughnut Economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist was published in 2017 and has been translated into 18 languages. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Kate Raworth, the creator of Doughnut Economics, about why we need to rethink economics, for the sake of all of our futures.

Thought Economics

In 2008, during the turbulence of a global financial crisis, a person (or group) called Satoshi Nakamoto released a white-paper called Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. The principle was simple but revolutionary- a technique to record digital transactions in a way that was public, permanent and verifiable without requiring a third party for trust. It is this principle that became more commonly known as Blockchain (or distributed ledger). Today, just 13 years later, the cryptocurrency market is valued at a staggering $1.6 trillion (around 2% of the entire global economy) and blockchain based companies are raising some of the largest rounds of funding in technology. To understand more about Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies I spoke to Nobel Prize Winning Economist, Professor Eric Maskin and a global expert on blockchain and cryptocurrency, Michel Rauchs.

Thought Economics

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