Martin Wolf

Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times

An authority on globalisation and the economics landscape

Add to Shortlist FT Blog @martinwolf_

Biography

Martin Wolf’s unique perspective and experience gives him an unparalleled voice on European and global economies. He can speak with authority about the economic relationships underlying our complex financial systems, what we can learn from them, and what lies ahead for Europe, the US, and the rest of the world.

He is Associate Editor and Chief Economics Commentator at the Financial Times, London. In his regular columns for the FT, Mr. Wolf covers a wide range of economically relevant topics. In the recent past, these have included: the state of the global, European and British economies; the “global savings glut” and “secular stagnation”; global monetary policies; the rise of populism; the political economy of Brexit; the future of the eurozone; the future of globalisation; the challenges to the Chinese and Indian economies; the past and future of the global financial system; radical monetary reform; the productivity slowdown and technological change; the economics of migration; the economics of climate change; reform of corporate governance; and the future of universities. For his “services to financial journalism”, Martin was awarded the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 2000.

Martin brings considerable practical experience to his writings. He was a member of the UK government’s Independent Commission on Banking between June 2010 and September 2011. Previously, he was a senior economist for ten years at the World Bank’s division of international trade. He has been a Forum Fellow at the World Economic Forum in Davos since 1999, where he has served as a moderator, and is a member of its International Media Council. He was Director of Studies at the Trade Policy Research Centre, London, and has advised governments and international organizations on trade and economic integration.

Mr. Wolf is the author of highly regarded books on globalisation, Why Globalization Works (Yale University Press, 2004), the global financial system, Fixing Global Finance (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008 and 2010). Fixing Global Finance describes how the financial crisis developed and what we can do to help ensure future global financial stability. China Business News named Fixing Global Finance its Financial Book of the Year for 2009. His most recent book on the global financial crisis is The Shifts and the Shocks: What We’ve Learned and Have Still to Learn – from the Financial Crisis (Penguin, 2014 and 2015).

Martin has won several prestigious awards for his journalism, including the Overseas Press Club of America’s prize for “best commentary on international news in any medium” for 2013; the James Cameron Memorial Award for 2012; a distinguished honorary fellowship by the European International Business Academy in 2012; and the 2012 International Ischia Journalism Prize (Italy’s most prestigious media award).

Other awards include the US Society of Business Writers and Editors 15th Annual Best Business Journalism award, and the "Ludwig-Erhard-Preis für Wirtschaftspublizistik" ("Ludwig Erhard Prize for economic commentary") from the Ludwig Erhard Stiftung (Foundation) for 2009. He won "Commentariat of the Year 2009" at the Comment Awards, sponsored by Editorial Intelligence, and the Decade of Excellence Award at the 2003 Business Journalists of the Year Awards.

Martin has a well-deserved reputation for rigorous thinking, deep insight, and his incisive and witty delivery.

Credentials

  • Associate Editor and Chief economics commentator, Financial Times
  • Former Member, The Independent Commission on Banking, June 2010 - Sept 2011
  • Honourary fellow, Nuffield College, Oxford University (2010)
  • Honourary fellow, Corpus Christi College, Oxford University (2007)
  • Honourary fellow, Oxford Institute for Economic Policy (Oxonia)
  • Honourary professor, University of Nottingham
  • Distinguished visiting fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York, in 2009 and 2010
  • Member of the Board of Governors of the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, in Israel
  • Director of Studies, Trade Policy Research Centre, London
  • Forum fellow, World Economic Forum in Davos
  • Member, WEF's International Media Council
  • Former Senior Economist, World Bank
  • Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, Nottingham University
  • Doctor of Science, honoris causa, by Warwick University
  • Doctor of Science (Economics) of London University, honoris causa, London School of Economics
  • Former member, Council of the Royal Economic Society, 1991-1996
  • Former member, National Consumer Council, 1987-1993
  • Recipient, first class honors in politics, philosophy and economics, Corpus Christi College and Nuffield College, Oxford University
  • Advisor & rapporteur to the Eminent Persons Group on World Trade (1990); principal author of its report, Meeting the World Trade Deadline: Path to a Successful Uruguay Round
  • Delivered many invited lectures

Honours

  • “Best commentary on international news in any medium”, Overseas Press Club of America, 2013
  • James Cameron Memorial Award, 2012
  • Honorary fellowship by the European International Business Academy, 2012
  • 2012 International Ischia Journalism Prize, Italy’s most prestigious media award
  • US Society of Business Writers and Editors, 15th Annual Best Business Journalism award, 2009
  • Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers 2011, 2010 and 2009
  • "Ludwig-Erhard-Preis für Wirtschaftspublizistik" ("Ludwig Erhard Prize for economic commentary") from the Ludwig Erhard Stiftung (Foundation) for 2009
  • "Commentariat of the Year 2009" at the Comment Awards, sponsored by Editorial Intelligence
  • "Commentator of the Year" award at the Business Journalist of the Year Awards of 2008
  • AMEC Lifetime achievement Award at the Workworld Media Awards for 2007
  • Commander of the British Empire (CBE), 2000
  • Decade of Excellence Award, Business Journalists of the Year Awards
  • First ever recipient of the Special Advocacy Award, FIRST magazine, for "considered and effective responses to questions of globalization and capitalism"
  • Newspaper Feature of the Year Award, Workworld Media Awards, 2003
  • Senior prize for excellence in financial Journalism, Wincott Foundation, 1989 & 1997
  • RTZ David Watt memorial prize for his article celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Bretton Woods conference
  • Journalism Prize, Fundacio Catalunya Oberta (Open Catalonia Foundation), 2006
  • New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal

Education

  • Corpus Christi College and Nuffield College, Oxford University
  • First class honours in classical moderations; first class honours in politics, philosophy and economics
  • Bachelor (and later, Master) of Philosophy

Books

The Shifts and the Shocks

What We’ve Learned — and Have Still to Learn — from the Financial Crisis

Martin Wolf

We have been inundated with books about 'the financial crisis'. Martin Wolf believes that too much has been said about the purely financial aspects of the economic crisis, important though they are. The actual underlying problem, as this radical new book argues, is that the world economy is unable to cope with the huge shifts it is undergoing: rapid economic integration; competition from billions of new workers; technological revolutions; and huge floods of capital across the world. With those shifts have come vast and largely unforeseen financial shocks. It is high time — indeed, past time — for our economics to keep pace with our economy. Now, with The Shifts and the Shocks, it has.

Allen Lane (4 Sep 2014)

Interviews

Book Release Meeting — Peterson Institute for International Economics
Financial journalistTavis Smiley
'The Shifts and the Shocks — Carnegie Council
'The Shifts and the Shocks'The Diane Rehm Show
Life Lessons: In Economics, Freedom and HistoryThe Leonard Lopate Show

Reviews

Looking Forward to the SequelThe American Prospect
Why Weren't Alarm Bells Ringing?The New York Review of Books
What we've learned from the crashThe Guardian
How to fix a broken systemThe Economist
Martin Wolf's Grand Theory of Global Financial Disorder — FiveThirtyEight.com
The Financial System Is Inherently FragileForbes
ReviewThe New Republic
What we didn't learn from the economic crisisVOX
A review — Kenneth Rogoff
Martin Wolf's 'The Shifts and the Shock'Financial Times
History Repeating ItselfThe Irish Examiner
Absorbing Events Past in a Summer's Reading ListThe New York Times

Praise

“Unsettling to anyone who thinks the financial system is any more stable now…Wolf has, once again, written an erudite, brilliant and data-heavy book on global macroeconomics.”
— FiveThirtyEight.com

“Martin Wolf has outdone himself. The FT’s chief economics commentator has written a book that not only explains the malaise in which we have been mired since 2008 but also — depressingly — provides a convincing analysis of why we are likely to remain so. Already, the crisis has spawned a plethora of titles examining what went wrong. The Shifts and the Shocks is among the first to address the absence of a robust recovery and it sets a high bar for those that will surely follow…One of the things that distinguishes Wolf’s analysis from so many others is that he sees the crisis as more than a financial crisis — an insight that is essential if we are to understand the failure to achieve a robust recovery…Wolf may have written the book to shake us out of our stupor.”
— Joseph Stiglitz, Financial Times

The Shifts and the Shocks is a fierce indictment of the global economy and a call for radical reform…Mr Wolf’s contribution is comprehensiveness and a piercing logic in piecing the disparate elements together. He weaves the macroeconomic and financial elements of the crisis, its origins and aftermath, into an all-encompassing analysis. Along the way he demolishes many of the popular explanations — such as that the mess was due to greedy bankers or to loose monetary policy—as too simplistic. The result is convincing and depressing; there are no quick fixes…An important contribution that anyone involved in economic policy ought to read.”
The Economist

“[A] worthy and wise new book…A primer on the interaction between global macroeconomic forces and what Wolf dares to call ‘an increasingly fragile, liberalized financial system.’ And it never goes off the rational, pragmatic track toward order, fragile or not.”
— Robert Lenzner, Forbes

“A surprisingly refreshing look at the biggest financial calamity since the Great Depression. Just when you thought everything that could be said about the crisis had been said, Mr. Wolf adds something new…Wolf deftly weaves together the components of the crisis, examining it from 10,000 feet up: globalization, monetary policy, banking architecture.”
— Andrew Ross Sorkin, The New York Times

“Building on his earlier book, Fixing Global Finance, in The Shifts and the Shocks Martin Wolf provides an insightful and timely analysis of how global imbalances, international capital flows, and economic policies have helped create a financially fragile world.”
— Ben Bernanke

“Martin Wolf is unsurpassed in the world of economic journalists. His superb book may be the best of all those spawned by the Great Recession. It is analytical and rigorous and without ever succumbing to fatalism or complacency. It should be read by anyone concerned with macroeconomic or financial policy going forward.”
— Lawrence Summers

“In this important book, Martin Wolf demonstrates that the Eurozone crisis was due to the interaction between powerful global economic and financial forces and the inadequacies of its economic and political structure. He also demonstrates that the Eurozone has not eliminated these weaknesses. The crisis is not yet over.”
— George Soros

“A masterly account of the financial crisis seen in its true international perspective.”
— Mervyn King

“The 2008 financial crisis was an economic disaster, but as Martin Wolf brilliantly argues the policy response has failed to address the fundamental drivers of instability — excessive debt creation, global imbalances and inequality. To think straight about causes and solutions we must reject orthodox assumptions that more finance and global financial integration are limitlessly beneficial. The Shifts and the Shocks does just that, providing an intellectually sparkling and vital account of why the crisis occurred, and of the radical reforms needed if we are to avoid a future repeat.”
— Adair Turner

“Martin Wolf has ranged more widely than perhaps any other author in trying to make sense of the global financial crisis and how to avoid its recurrence. Macroeconomics, finance, ideas, institutions, policy, politics; Europe, Asia, the US — they are all here. Whether or not one agrees with Wolf’s analysis and prescriptions, this book will help everyone work out what they think. A must read.”
— Paul Tucker, Senior Fellow, Harvard University

“In this powerful and important book, Martin Wolf exposes the forces that shaped our fragile financial system and brought harm to so many, with particular attention to the crisis in Europe. His insights and urgent call to prevent more harm must be heard.”
— Anat Admati, Stanford University; co-author of The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do About It

"Martin Wolf has been the world's leading commentator on the Global Financial Crisis and its economic consequences: now in The Shifts and the Shocks he demonstrates with compelling force that the essential response to financial fragility is to make banks boring: lots more capital, much lower prospective returns."
— William H. Janeway, Warburg Pincus; University of Cambridge

Fixing Global Finance

Expanded and Updated Edition

Martin Wolf

Since 2008, when Fixing Global Finance was first published, the collapse of the housing and credit bubbles of the 2000s has crippled the world's economy. In this updated edition, Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf explains how global imbalances helped cause the financial crises now ravaging the U.S. economy and outlines steps for ending this destructive cycle — of which this is the latest and biggest. An expanded conclusion recommends near- and long-term measures to stabilize and protect financial markets in the future. Reviewing global financial crises since 1980, Wolf lays bare the links between the microeconomics of finance and the macroeconomics of the balance of payments, demonstrating how the subprime lending crisis in the United States fits into a pattern that includes the economic shocks of 1997, 1998, and early 1999 in Latin America, Russia, and Asia. He explains why the United States became the "borrower and spender of last resort," makes the case that this was an untenable arrangement, and argues that global economic security depends on radical reforms in the international monetary system and the ability of emerging economies to borrow sustainably in domestic currencies.

Yale University Press; Expanded and updated ed edition (13 April 2010)

Fixing Global Finance

How to Curb Financial Crises in the 21st Century

Martin Wolf

The only inkling of hope is that policy makers everywhere have been so shaken by events that they will heed what Wolf advises. This book is a great and important contribution to everyone's welfare on the globe. It can be paid no higher accolade. — The Guardian

'It is neither desirable nor feasible for the US to be the world's dominant borrower forever. Indeed it is absurd for the world economy's stability to depend on the willingness of the world's richest consumers to borrow ever more. 'The globalisation of finance should have brought substantial benefits. In practice it brought a series of devastating currency and banking crises in the 1980s and 1990s, particularly in the developing world. The failure of advanced countries and of the IMF to rescue the damaged economies of Asia, Russia or Brazil taught those countries, and the emerging Chinese giant, an overwhelming lesson: never again. Emerging economies ceased importing capital, but by keeping their exchange rates down, running huge current account surpluses, recycling capital inflows and accumulating enormous foreign currency reserves, they began to export it on a vast scale. Since several advanced countries also ran large current account surpluses, to which the oil exporters added their own massive contributions in the mid-2000s, the US emerged as the spender and borrower of last resort. The US is the world's most credit worthy borrower. But as its external deficit exploded, so did the domestic borrowing of US households, stimulated by rising house prices. The result was the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007.The challenge ahead is to promote a financial system that makes fast-growing emerging economies comfortable as large-scale net importers of foreign capital. The key is to acknowledge that, in a world of adjustable currencies, international lending must be denominated in the currency of borrowers, not just in that of a few dominant advanced economies. Only by tackling imbalances in the international financial system is there a chance of global financial stability.

Yale University Press; 1ST Edition edition (16 Dec 2008)

Reviews

Why we're in the mess we areThe Guardian

Praise

"Wolf's analysis fills in a lot of blanks for those seeking to understand the new U.S. recession in a global context."
Publishers Weekly

"This is an ambitious book by one of the most respected financial journalists of our time... He does a terrific job, taking us through the plethora of theories that were put out to explain the imbalances, debunking the more popular but flaky ones with gusto."
Financial Times

"An extremely helpful guide to the origins of today's problems and to possible solutions."
Foreign Affairs

"The only inkling of hope is that policy makers everywhere have been so shaken by events that they will heed what Wolf advises. This book is a great and important contribution to everyone's welfare on the globe. It can be paid no higher accolade."
Guardian

"Fixing Global Finance marks a turning point in his worldview... offers important pointers to the way ahead."
New York Review of Books

Why Globalization Works

Martin Wolf

The debate on globalization has reached a level of passionate intensity that inhibits rational discussion. In this book, one of the world's foremost economic commentators explains how globalization works and why it makes sense. Martin Wolf confronts the charges against globalization, delivers a devastating critique of each and outlines a more hopeful future.

Yale University Press; 2nd New edition edition (4 Feb 2005)
Yale University Press; 1st Edition edition (14 May 2004)

Topics

Mr Wolf is able to discuss economic issues, and link economics and politics, in a lucid, comprehensive and engaging manner. Among the topics with which he is particularly familar are:

Global macroeconomic dilemmas: Why are interest rates so low and yet demand so weak in the high-income economy? How long might this strange condition last and when might it change? Should there be greater use of fiscal policy, instead?

The future of the eurozone: Is the eurozone now securely on the mend? How much has this depended on the policies of the European Central Bank? Might the crisis return and if so, how?

The British economy: How will the UK handle Brexit? What policies might it follow and what might the implications be for future growth and employment?

The productivity slowdown: Why is productivity growth now so low? Is this the result of failures of demand or of supply or of simple mis-measurement? How can this be happening when technology is supposed to be so dynamic?

Climate Change: Was there a breakthrough over climate management in the Paris conference last year? If so, what might it imply for the economy and business? If not, what might the consequences of unmitigated climate change be for the world economy?

The Chinese economy: What are the challenges facing Chinese economic reform? Is the economy stable or could it suffer a sharp recession? How important is the rapid build-up of Chinese debt?

The Indian economy: Is the Indian economy poised to take over from the Chinese as the engine of the world economy? What still has to happen if it is to achieve sustained success?

The challenges to globalisation: Globalisation has stalled. What are the implications of this? Could it even go into reverse?

The rise of populism: Why is populism of both the left and right surging? Is it mainly the result of the global financial crisis? Or are longer-term trends, particularly rising inequality, driving it? What role is being played by immigration in transforming attitudes to globalisation?

Videos

Brexit briefing | Financial Times

"The Shifts and The Shocks: What we've learned — and still have to learn — from the financial crisis" | London School of Economics

Austerity vs. Short-term Growth

Global Economics … and more

Feedback

A business strategy group:
Hi Martin — What a wonderful and informative presentation you gave at the [ . . . ] CEO Council last week!

Everyone drew scads of provocative ideas to follow up as their organizations look ahead and make critical decisions. Your insistent perspective on considering economic history as strong guidance for the future is particularly refreshing nowadays; it is an (almost) unique outlook and intriguingly helpful. Equally, everyone appreciated your willingness to engage in a dialogue and respond to questions. In the end, we all learned a great deal and the participants felt they’d engaged with a true visionary in a thoroughly original discussion on the implications of unique economic circumstances. What more can I say? Only thanks enormously for coming and, no surprise, I particularly enjoyed our personal discussion.

A global association of financial institutions:
Martin was great, the dinner audience clearly found his speech fascinating, many in the audience were taking notes as he spoke. He was a perfect fit for the audience.

A non-profit trade association for the global institutional real estate investment industry:
Dear Martin, I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank you for participating in this year’s Annual [. . .] Conference. Your presentation on the global economic environment was outstanding, as was the discussion you led on investment performance within that context. We were not surprised to see that both sessions in which you participated received top ratings and numerous positive comments from our attendees.

A European banking group:
Thank you so much for such a fascinating presentation yesterday. The utter silence from that rowdy rabble must have been very gratifying. You were much talked about for the rest of the day and you provoked some interesting discussions for us all.

A world leading pharmaceutical company's financial leaders program:
Dear Martin — Thank you for taking the time last week to meet with [...] Finance leaders at our Global Conference.

The objective of our first day was to bring the outside world into our Finance community and ensure that we all understand and are prepared to address the fast changing global environment, the pressures on our industry, and the implications for us. Your presentation and participation in the panel discussion was excellent, and generated a great deal of thought and questions over the remaining two days of our conference. I know that our Finance Leaders benefited greatly from the time that you invested with us.

A real estate association:
Martin Wolf was phenomenal!!!! EVERYONE was delighted that we had him as the opening keynote speaker. His address was excellent. Really, people have not stopped calling and congratulating us for having him on the program. They have all requested a copy of his slide presentation. So, the wait for several years, was well worth it…and probably quite timely!!!

A law firm:
Martin — Just wanted to drop you a quick note to say "thank you" for your presentation. Your macro view of the global economy is exactly what we needed to get the plenary session off on the right foot, and I have heard nothing but favorable comments.

A world’s premier non-ferrous metals market:
Martin - I am pleased you enjoyed it and I am very grateful that you could fit us into your schedule. You should know that your presentation was exceptionally well received (it is very unusual for the community to be so generous in their comments) and I have to say that the praise was entirely merited. I very much appreciated the way that you clearly answered the questions and I know that the audience did too. Your information provided a compelling context for the analysts' specific metal reviews.

A major international banking firm:
Martin, I simply wanted to thank you for coming to our conference. Everybody I spoke with gave me extraordinary feedbacks from your talk. It was a really interesting and stimulating presentation…Both management and our senior clients only had the best possible comments about your participating in our conference.

A European industry association:
Thank you so much for your message and your kind words. It was both an honour and a pleasure to meet and work with you on our conference.

Your presentation not only interested our attendants, but a large majority rated your presentation as the best of the whole conference. It was indeed very sharp, clear and extremely well structured. Difficult now not to understand what globalization implies! Many thanks again for your superb contribution.

Articles

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