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Global Economist. Author. Investor in the Future.
Very excited to join Parlio and participate in a Q&A with such a great community.

I am a global economist, author, and business strategist who analyzes the macroeconomy, global markets and geopolitics. I currently serve on the boards of Barclays Bank, the financial services group, SABMiller, the global brewer, and Barrick Gold, the global miner.

I completed my PhD in economics at Oxford University and earned my MPA from Harvard and MBA in finance from American University. I've traveled to over 70 countries and have run numerous half-marathons and marathons.

I look forward to your questions and an engaging conversation!
This Q&A took place between 9/24/15 and 9/30/15. Unanswered questions have been hidden
16 questions
I work in the field of values....I'm interested in your view on performance targets and how values might be compromised and value destroyed as companies blindly seek to meet targets.

As an aside I used to work for SAB (IR) and sat next to you at a Barclay's dinner - you shared your story about the Dambisa Board which I copied and here I am. Thank you!
Global Economist. Author. Investor in the Future.
Hello Vicky – thank you for your message. Basically, “what gets measured gets managed”…In this regard, I believe companies – as well as individuals, governments and even not-for profit organizations - should have targets to measure their performance but also need to be very careful about the values they pick to enshrine how they conduct themselves.

Of course, our ability to live by our values– whether individuals, civil society and governments - is complicated by the values of the customers, shareholders, regulators, employees, other stakeholders and societies in which we live, operate and govern. I do think there is an important (and on-going) debate to be had around how we all ascribe values - whether in the free market capitalist system (which you allude to) and more generally in economic and political systems at large.

A lot of progress has been made to broaden the utility of companies to encompass social goods, but we (not just business) all as part of a broader ecosystem need to (constantly) evaluate what our societal values are – for example, are we content, as a society that our nurses make less per annum than some sports stars earn every week? I hope this helps.
International Human Rights Researcher & Advocate
Dear Dr. Moyo,

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions. In your book, you spoke about the benefit of a "benevolent dictator" for managing economic development. I was wondering what your thoughts are on the relationship between development and human rights? Can certain civil and political rights be compromised (temporarily or not) for the sake of economic development?


Thanks again!
Global Economist. Author. Investor in the Future.
Thank you for very interesting question. I tried to address this topic in my TED talk. The truth is this is very complex. On the one hand there are people like me who absolutely believe, at the very core, in the freedoms and rights enshrined in documents such as the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, it would be remiss, as a student of economic progress and development, to ignore the amazing and legendary economic success of countries such as China with a markedly different stance on political freedoms and rights.

It is clear also, that sometimes individuals make choices that may be “good” for them, but “bad for wider society. How we police this is a delicate question. For example, there are clearly wider costs that society bears at the expense of individual benefits – think of the costs of obesity for example (people say I can eat whatever I like) but we as a society have to pay for diabetes and other obesity related diseases which can take away the extra dollar to fund other public goods like education and infrastructure.

On the whole I think there is no hard and fast rule, except that we must be more open minded about how we can navigate trade offs...I hope this helps.
Dr Moyo,

Could you share your views on the current state of the Chinese economy? Have the reforms launched by President Xi made any (sufficient) progress in developing the economy?

Want to take this opportunity as well to add that I am a great fan of yours and I thoroughly enjoy your work!

Thank you!
Global Economist. Author. Investor in the Future.
Thank you for your question. I was recently interviewed by the Globe and Mail on this topic. I was very privileged to be part of a small group who met with President Xi in Beijing a year ago and if nothing else, I have a lot of confidence in the astute and balanced reading by the President and his aides, of the myriad of challenges that no doubt China has – whether slowing growth, demographic shifts, environmental challenges etc.

An economic transition from a state-centric, trade exporter economy to a more market-led, consumer driven economy is always going to be challenging – especially when you have over one billion citizens. But in the near-term I believe that the Chinese authorities have a number of tools at their disposal and lots of room to act across monetary and fiscal policy (as the US and other countries have done) to manage the current economic malaise.
Founder, 10 TRAITS Leadership Institute; UN Virtual Mentor
Dambisa, thank you for answering our questions. Here's mine: It's a question about obstacles and challenges that women face being invited into leadership roles in countries (and corporate cultures) where women are trained to be submissive. What role can corporations play to invite more women as leaders at all levels of society, both inside the corporation and out. That is, what role can they play to invite more women to the the decision and policy-making table where decisions impacting the lives of citizens and the environment are involved? How many women am I talking about? Enough to make a difference.
Global Economist. Author. Investor in the Future.
Thank you for your very important question. I tend to look at things from a glass half-full, rather than glass half-empty approach – in this regard, I believe women have made significant strides BUT, of course much more needs to be done.

If we take a breather and a step back we have a lot to be proud of in the accomplishments of women in all manner of political, economic, and business arenas.
If being at the helm of the C-suite is the indication of gender progress, then there is much to be sanguine about. As it is not just politics and global policymaking where women are making/have made important professional strides (think Dilma Rousseff, the president of Brazil, Cristina Kirchner of Argentina, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, IMF head Christine Lagarde, or US Federal reserve chair, Janet Yellen etc. etc.).
In virtually all non-business (academe and NGOs) and business sectors - technology (old and new), automotives, industrials, fast moving consumer goods, and even mining the glass ceiling has been shattered, with women not just ascending into the C-suite, but also acquiring the coveted CEO role.

Please do not misread this as a statement of society being where it needs to be – of course not. But I do think it is worth recognizing that there has been a marked shift and public policy as well as businesses have had to respond to the demand for action.
In addition and beyond this, as a woman passionate about the representation of women, I urge women to speak out and put there hands up when they see an opportunity where they think there skills could fit. Women must take risk and make sure that people know that they are willing and able to take on roles – in that sense we have to shoulder at least half the responsibility to remedy the past imbalances.
Dr Moyo,

A short question which I hope you can elaborate your views on: What do you think about the new UN Sustainable Development Goals?

Thank you!
Global Economist. Author. Investor in the Future.
Thank you for your message: Your question is similar to another one I have received. My view is that there is nothing inherently objectionable about the SDG’s.

But as a follow up to the MDG’s I think it is patently clear that our problem (as a global community) is not coming up with clever frameworks or identifying goals which we can all rally around (we seem to do that well)– the problem we have is two fold: first, a lack of execution – i.e. we don’t do the things that can lead us to success and second, relatedly, a lack of innovation…that is, not being willing to change direction in search of reaching our goals when it is clear that what we are doing is not delivering – if we can navigate political agendas and address this hurdle I believe we can attain greater human progress and success.
Dream: stock exchange for non-profits - rgbexchange.org
Hi Dr. Moyo, I wondered what you thought of the idea of developing a stock exchange for non-profit organizations?

I'm not a professional economist but I have been studying the global economy for several years as part of my research in cause marketing, exploring alternatives to current systems, which might help provide a safety net for the most vulnerable people, including during times when currency fluctuations affect commodities export values.

In particular I wonder if such a market could issue virtual shares, providing social ownership, not necessarily fiscal ownership. What do you think?
Global Economist. Author. Investor in the Future.
Thank you for your idea and question. I do like the idea – I have always felt that the not for profit could benefit from many of the positive aspects/attributes in the stock market – such as transparency, public clearing prices and a constant culling (if you will of under performers).

Of course stock markets can have weaknesses (such as when we see herd behaviour that can misallocate resources (capital and labor), but if nothing else I do think the not –for profit sector can benefit from greater transparency/less opacity and an ability to be publicly rated which are hallmarks of the market system.
Hi Dambisa,

Thanks for answering our questions.

1. Many world powers have obviously decided to turn a blind eye to the Egyptian regime's crackdown on opposition and grand human rights violations because they think Sisi, or whoever is backed by the military for that matter, would be able to maintain some kind of stability in the country and lift up its economy. Do you agree that they should adopt such position? Do you find this the wisest position possible?

2. What prospects do you see for Egypt's economy giving the current political situation and the current economic policies?
Global Economist. Author. Investor in the Future.
Thank you for your question. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I am ill-equipped to answer the specifics of your questions around Egypt as I am only generally aware of the issues the country faces and not the detailed specific dynamics. I will say that getting “Egypt right” politically, socially and economically is a critical matter not just for her borders but for the developing world as a whole, where 90 percent of the worlds population lives and where on average 60-70% of the population is under the age of 25 years old. Viewed through this lens, Egypt reminds us of what is at stake and the urgent and important need for us – as economists, but also as a global society – to deliver meaningful economic growth that can reduce poverty and support human progress.

Investment in education, infrastructure and healthcare are minimum requirements to jump start these economies and governments need be aware that they have a duty and important responsibility to do this as quickly as possible – this is the priority, I believe -above political proclamations that tend to pit us against each other and remove focus from the much needed economic improvements in peoples rights. I hope this helps.
Human Rights Foundation and Oslo Freedom Forum
Dr. Moyo,

What are your thoughts on the credulity of world institutions when it comes to development statistics coming from authoritarian governments? For example, when the UN obtains its MDG education data from Cuba, they take it directly from the dictatorship. When the WEF gets its GCI data on Bahrain, they take it directly from the ruling family. When Nicolás Maduro cites Venezuela's progress against inequality in the NYT, he quotes his own statisticians. Why do you think there is so little pushback, concern, or oversight with regard to socio-economic data on closed societies?
Global Economist. Author. Investor in the Future.
Thank you for your question. I am generally a skeptic of all public data – as I do believe that even in more advanced economies we don’t necessarily always “get it right”. You will be aware, I am sure that even in economies there are and can be meaningful data revisions on a quarter by quarter basis. I have often quoted the phrase that what gets measured gets managed – and in that sense getting the right numbers is crucial.

Often in many countries (developing ones in particular) there is the added challenge of resources and skills to adequately get to the right numbers. I generally don’t get too stressed out about the exact numbers – I think that will come right over time; besides I think we should be more focused on the bigger and more fundamental point which we agree on – that education, income inequality and competitiveness (which you cite here) all remain substantial problems in these countries and beyond – For now, I don’t think we need 100 percent correct data to know that. I hope this helps.
Currently Europe is experiencing a protracted period of economic troubles. This in turn is fueling dissatisfaction, alienation and, perhaps most worryingly of all, disillusionment with the European project.

My question then is divided into two: A) What do you think are the biggest factors that are contributing to Europe's economic problems? B) What could be done, if anything, to get Europe back to economic growth?
Global Economist. Author. Investor in the Future.
Thank you for your message. I strongly believe that economic growth – how we can deliver future rates of growth that can improve livelihoods and continue to meaningfully put a dent in poverty, is the defining issue of our generation.

Like most economists, I tend to look at Europe’s economic situation through the three key drivers of economic growth: first, Capital (how much money/debt a country or region has), second, Labor (the quality and quantity of the workforce) and third, productivity, essentially the ability and speed to convert capital and labor into economic growth.

Like many other developed regions, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, Europe’s economic growth prospects have been challenged. Many countries are laden with debt, thereby hurting the capital piece, Europe’s population has - according to some estimates - been on the decline, and the OECD PISA report shows worsening performance in mathematics, science and reading by younger Europeans which is eroding the quality of the future workforce. Moreover, in some countries, such as the UK, there have been notable declines in productivity.

Policy makers should work to remedy this picture – by reducing debt, investing in education and infrastructure. The challenge of course is that many of these responses can take some time to be reflected as improvements in the wider economy. For more on this topic, have a look at my book How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly and the Stark Choices Ahead. I hope this helps.
Researcher @ Harvard | Parlio community manager
Thank you Dr. Moyo for taking our questions.

Men and women I attended Harvard Kennedy School with are incredibly passionate about their work, but often times are overstretched as their accomplishments constantly open more doors for their careers, and experience burn out from time to time.

As such a renown thinker, practitioner, and academic (and a very active traveler and runner) who wears so many hats, how are you able to prioritize what's most important to you, and how are you able to self-care so that you sustain your energy and passion for your projects and various commitments?
Global Economist. Author. Investor in the Future.
Thank you for your message. How to have an interesting and balanced life is a challenge many people face. I feel very lucky to have the opportunities and experiences that I have even when I have had to endure so many flights to travel to over 70 countries as I have been fortunate enough to do in the past 5 years! As you point out, prioritization and using time wisely is absolutely critical. But perhaps an under valued point is exercise.

Over the past years I have invested a lot of my time in cross fit and more recently in regular running (including 2 marathons in the past year – New York and London). I have written about my experiences of marathon running and how that taught me a lot about business in the Wall Street Journal – the article is called:– What Leaders Can Learn From A Long Run (April 2015).

Of course, it doesn’t have to be running, but I think getting regular exercise helps tremendously to manage competing demands. I hope this helps.
Senior Fellow for Innovation at Alliance for Peacebuilding
Someone has already asked you about the SDGs that the UN formally adopted yesterday.

For those of us in the peacebuilding community, they are a huge step forward, because they include "our" topic.

However, I'm wondering how you react to them as a developmental economist.

In particular, do you think they are "for real" or just the start of another fad of which we have had too many in developmental circles?
Global Economist. Author. Investor in the Future.
Thank you for your question. To my mind, there is nothing inherently objectionable about the SDG’s.

But as a follow up to the MDG’s I think it is patently clear that our problem (as a global community) is not coming up with clever frameworks or identifying goals which we can all rally around – the problem we have is two fold: first, a lack of execution – i.e. doing the things that can lead us to success and second, relatedly, a lack of innovation…that is, not being willing to change direction in search of reaching our goals when it is clear that what we are doing is not delivering – if we can navigate political agendas and address this hurdle I believe we can attain greater human progress and success.
Thank you for actively participating here on Parlio.

I just attended a fair trade presentation in Berlin. With your involvement in mining industry, who, at least in Africa, and as an industry, has a bad reputation regarding workers right, conditions and salary, how do you think the world can improve the workers conditions (not only miners but farmers etc.).

Thank you.
Global Economist. Author. Investor in the Future.
Thank you for your question. It has always been my position that governments – particularly those elected by the people, for the people – should ensure that workers rights are well articulated and adhered to. Of course business has a responsibility to behave in an ethical and responsible way, but ultimately whether you are in America, China, Europe, Asia or Africa, government is charged and elected to ensure that business behaves in a proper fashion.

This is why in my book Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How there is Better Way for Africa, I expressed a very deep concern for how a broken aid system was disincentivising governments in aid- receiving countries to do the right thing for their people. If anything, the aid system has been constructed in a manner that rewards bad actors/governments and this in turn, can allow citizen and workers rights to fall by the wayside.

Fortunately there is light shining on this issue and I believe governments and business will continue to be brought to task on their behavior. I hope this helps.
The Syrian refugee crisis has been receiving a lot of attention in the media, and it has sparked a debate about whether countries should accept immigrants/refugees from an economic standpoint. Some believe that states should reserve their resources for citizens, others feel that influxes of people and labor can stimulate economies. What are your thoughts on this issue?
Global Economist. Author. Investor in the Future.
Thank you for your important question. The immigration issue is a complex one. On the one hand political dysfunction that creates instability can lead to the immigration challenges we are witnessing from Syria. On the other hand, economic dysfunction – where economies are not growing fast enough to alleviate poverty and create opportunities for the local population – has also, over many decades yielded a steady flow of immigration.

Countries such as the United States have capitalized on immigration, and rather than focusing on negatives have shown how a diverse workforce can make an economy great. I have written on this subject in a piece for McKinsey the global consultants entitled: Creating a Global Framework for Immigration (January 2015).

Net-net, I believe the salient point is that there must be a broader and better recognition that the policies that are adopted in the west around trade (for example the and aid can and do have negative consequences that manifest themselves in failing economies that force many people to be come economic refugees in search of better future prospects for themselves and their children’s future.

More generally, the fact that we are ever increasingly interconnected and means we will have to consider more carefully what this means for global resources and future prospects for the global economy.
Student at Nalanda International University
I am waiting your comments on Islamic Banking System and Free-Interest banking. As a global economist, your comments and opinions can influence the current era.
Global Economist. Author. Investor in the Future.
Thank you for your inquiry. Islamic banking is a fascinating area for which I don’t know enough to opine in a credible way. I am definitely interested in the sector and absolutely believe it must be part of the discourse for the health of the future global economy. I look forward to researching the scope for innovation of Islamic Banking and greater collaboration in the international financial community. I hope this helps.
There is evidence that investments in the public infrastructure of developing nations by private banking firms is helpful to these economies in the long run. Do you believe this is true and if so why are so many developing nations in the southern hemisphere in long-term debt to banks/organization in the northern hemisphere?

Do you believe the organizations you participate in such as Barclays Bank, the Bilderberg group, the World Bank, are mostly successful in their attempts to alleviate global poverty?
Global Economist. Author. Investor in the Future.
Thank you for your thoughtful question. In August of this year, I published and article in Project Syndicate entitled– A Marshall Plan for the United States– which unequivocally stated that no country can achieve long-run economic success without substantial investment in infrastructure. Infrastructure investment is a crucial piece of creating economic growth and opportunity. It is also a path to creating employment (particularly for the lower skilled).

In terms of financing infrastructure, scaling up infrastructure spending could provide an opportunity for long-term institutional investors. Pension funds, insurance companies, and mutual funds in the US manage combined assets totaling roughly $30 trillion, and they have been struggling to find investments that match their long-term obligations. Persistently low interest rates have been particularly challenging for pension funds, which face rising liabilities (calculated on a discounted basis). In short, there is a lot of capital that could be put to work to drive infrastructure investment and the arguments for such investments are compelling.

Finally, I do not subscribe to the view that only a handful of organizations are responsible for the success or failure or indeed the place that the global economy finds itself in. For example, your list does not include China, whose political class has for all intent and purposes been at the help of the greatest shift in the reduction in poverty on record. I think we all need to be open minded on where and how the sources of global economic growth will emerge in the years to come. I hope this helps.
Will 2015 be the best year yet for GDP growth in the recovery? Why or why not?
Global Economist. Author. Investor in the Future.
Thank you for your inquiry. I believe that there is still a lot of work to be done to get the world economy back on a sturdy growth path, and thus think the world economy will continue to face a number of headwinds.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, the global economy continues to grapple with enormous debts, worsening demographics – both in terms of an ageing work force (particularly in developed countries) and poor education standards (see the OECD’s PISA statistics) and a decline in global productivity, which by some estimates has been on the descent since 2003.

Given the importance of these three key drivers of economic growth: first, Capital (how much money/debt a country or region has), second, Labor (the quality and quantity of the workforce) and third, productivity, essentially the ability and speed to convert capital and labor into economic growth, and the weak position many large economies are in this regard, I am not sanguine that 2015 will be the best year of the recovery.