Alan Blinder is professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University and vice chairman of Promontory Interfinancial Network, a financial services firm.
Alan S. Blinder on
The emergence or the joining-in to the economic world over the recent decade and a half of a lot of people that really weren't part of it. I'm talking about China, I'm talking about India, and I'm talking about the former Soviet Union.
The alleviation of poverty or, more generally, the reduction of inequality. In the United States, for more than 30 years now, with a few little breaks, we have been moving towards a more unequal society. That's point one: the level of disparities. Point two, which may be more important, is that these disparities are growing. The third aspect, which I find also very troubling, is that what used to be true about intergenerational mobility is not true anymore.
I think people largely value freedom, even the ones that don't have it. In fact, probably the ones that don't have it value it more. I think that is pretty much global, with some exceptions. Of course, a lot of governments are exceptions that are trying to stop it from happening.
Leadership starts with a vision, a notion of where you want to lead. Secondly, you have to have some pragmatism—and this in many cases means political pragmatism. Thirdly, you need to have communications skills and a little bit of charisma. It's a combination of attributes that not so many people have. But, fortunately, we don't need that many. We need a lot more sensible followers than we need leaders.
I would like to see us and the whole world get serious about climate change. This planet may be a much worse place to inhabit 100 years from now if we don't start taking serious action.