This article may be unbalanced towards certain viewpoints. (July 2019)
Ian Arthur Bremmer (born November 12, 1969) is an American political scientist specializing in U.S. foreign policy, states in transition, and global political risk. He is the president and founder of Eurasia Group, a political risk research and consulting firm with offices in New York City, Washington, London, Tokyo, São Paulo, San Francisco, Brasilia, and Singapore. Eurasia Group provides analysis and expertise about how political developments and national security dynamics move markets and shape investment environments across the globe.
Bremmer in 2017
|Born||November 12, 1969|
Chelsea, Massachusetts, United States
|Occupation||Political scientist, author, entrepreneur, lecturer|
|Education||BA, Tulane University |
PhD, Stanford University
Bremmer is also the founder of GZERO Media, a company dedicated to providing the public with intelligent and engaging coverage of global affairs. He hosts GZERO WORLD with Ian Bremmer, a television show in which he explains stories and ideas shaping the globe and interviews some of the world’s top newsmakers and thought leaders. He is the author of several books, including The J Curve, Every Nation for Itself, and the New York Times bestselling Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism. As of December 2014, he is foreign affairs columnist and editor-at-large at Time. In 2013, he was named professor at New York University. Most widely known for advances in political risk, Bremmer is referred to as the "guru" in the field by The Economist and The Wall Street Journal. More directly, he is credited with bringing political science as a discipline to the financial markets. Bremmer's definition of an emerging market as "a country where politics matters at least as much as economics to the market" is a standard reference in the political risk field.
Early life and educationEdit
Bremmer is of Armenian and German descent. His father, Arthur, served in the Korean War and died at the age of 46 when Bremmer was four. He grew up in housing projects in Chelsea, Massachusetts, near Boston. His mother raised him and his brother with little help and little money. Bremmer went to St. Dominic Savio High School in East Boston. He later earned a BA in international relations, magna cum laude, from Tulane University in 1989 and a PhD in political science from Stanford University in 1994, writing "The politics of ethnicity: Russians in the Ukraine".
Bremmer founded the political risk research and consulting firm Eurasia Group in 1998, starting with a staff of one based out of a cubicle in the World Policy Institute in New York City. In the firm's early days, Carter Page was on staff for three months; Bremmer later cited Page’s stridently pro-Kremlin views as the reason “he wasn’t a good fit” for the company.[a]
Eurasia Group opened a London office in 2000, a Washington, DC office in 2005, a Tokyo office in 2015, San Francisco and São Paulo offices in 2016, and Brasilia and Singapore offices in 2017.
In 2001, Bremmer and Eurasia Group created Wall Street's first global political risk index, now the GPRI (Global Political Risk Index), and in 2004, he and the firm expanded their coverage to include frontier markets. Bremmer launched Eurasia Group’s annual Top Risks report in 2006. Available to the general public, the report is a forecast of the key geopolitical risks for the year ahead. That year, the firm also created a Global Energy and Natural Resources Strategy group.
Following the 2008 financial crisis, Eurasia Group expanded its coverage to developed markets, beginning with the United States and followed by Europe. It also created a Comparative Analytics practice to develop new products and methodologies for measuring political risk. Four years later, Eurasia Group founded the Emerging Markets Strategy group.
In 2014, Bremmer recruited former heads of state, ministers, and other experts to Eurasia Group’s Senior Advisor program. Members of the program include former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, and former Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. Other partnerships include a landmark initiative with Nikko Asset Management to develop co-branded investment funds incorporating political risk into portfolio management and a joint venture with New York University to offer the first executive education program in political risk.
In 2018, Eurasia Group hosted its first Geopolitical Summit in Tokyo and launched egX, a platform that crafts innovative approaches to the world’s most complex global political challenges.
In 2019, Eurasia Group began working with Gerry Butts, former Principal Secretary to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to launch a global climate practice. It also expanded its GZERO Events platform to include an annual forum in Brazil.
In 2017, Bremmer founded GZERO Media, a media company dedicated to providing the public with intelligent and engaging coverage of global affairs. It is a subsidiary of Eurasia Group. Its name refers to the term “G-Zero”, which was coined by Bremmer to describe a world where no country or group of countries has the political and economic leverage to drive an international agenda or provide global public goods.
Bremmer hosts the weekly digital and US national public television show, GZERO World with Ian Bremmer, where he explains the key global stories of the moment, sits down for in-depth conversations with newsmakers and thought leaders, and satirizes current affairs in a segment called Puppet Regime, featuring puppet world leaders and a puppet Ian, voiced by Bremmer. Previous guests include Rwandan President Paul Kagame, New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman, EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, 23rd Governor of the Reserve Bank of India Raghuram Rajan, former German Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, Emirati Youth Minister Shamma Al Mazrui, Mexico's former Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda, retired United States Army four-star general Stanley McChrystal, and Senators Cory Booker, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Chris Coons. Extended cuts of the interview are published in the GZERO World podcast.
Bremmer also hosts a weekly digital video series called The World in 60 Seconds, which is part of a broader In 60 Seconds Series featuring Adam Grant on Work, Nicholas Thompson on Tech, Sallie Krawcheck on Money, Ben White on US Politics, Isabelle Roughol on the Media, Carl Bildt on Europe, Kevin Rudd on China, Kai-fu Lee on Artificial Intelligence, and others.
Bremmer has published ten books, including the national bestsellers Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World (Portfolio, May 2012), which details risks and opportunities in a world without global leadership, and The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations (Portfolio, May 2010), which describes the global phenomenon of state capitalism and its implications for economics and politics. He also wrote The J Curve: A New Way to Understand Why Nations Rise and Fall (Simon & Schuster, 2006), selected by The Economist as one of the best books of 2006. His latest book is the New York Times bestseller Us vs Them: The Failure of Globalism (Portfolio, April 2018), which provides an analysis of the global implications of rising populist nationalism and government responses.
In addition to his books, Bremmer is a frequent writer and commentator in the media. He is the foreign affairs columnist and editor-at-large for Time, a contributor for the Financial Times A-List, and has also published articles in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Foreign Affairs, and many other publications.
Bremmer appears regularly on CNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, Bloomberg Television, National Public Radio, the BBC, and other networks. He was a regular guest and occasional host of the Charlie Rose Show and has appeared frequently on Real Time with Bill Maher.
Bremmer has held research and faculty positions at New York University, Columbia University, the EastWest Institute, the World Policy Institute, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the Asia Society Policy Institute, where he has served as the first Harold J. Newman Distinguished Fellow in Geopolitics since 2015.
Among his professional appointments, Bremmer serves on the President's Council of the Near East Foundation, the Leadership Council for the Concordia Summit, and the board of trustees of Intelligence Squared. In 2007, he was named as a "Young Global Leader" of the World Economic Forum, and in 2010, founded and was appointed Chair of the Forum's Global Agenda Council for Geopolitical Risk. In December 2015, Bremmer was knighted by the government of Italy. In 2017, he was listed as one of LinkedIn's ten most influential global voices.
Bremmer's J curve outlines the link between a country's openness and its stability. While many countries are stable because they are open (the United States, France, Japan), others are stable because they are closed (North Korea, Cuba, Iraq under Saddam Hussein). States can travel both forward (right) and backward (left) along this J curve, so stability and openness are never secure. The J is steeper on the left-hand side, as it is easier for a leader in a failed state to create stability by closing the country than to build a civil society and establish accountable institutions; the curve is higher on the far right than left because states that prevail in opening their societies (Eastern Europe, for example) ultimately become more stable than authoritarian regimes.
Ian Bremmer describes state capitalism as a system in which the state dominates markets primarily for political gain. In his book The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations (New York: Portfolio, 2010), Bremmer describes China as the primary driver for the rise of state capitalism as a challenge to the free market economies of the developed world, particularly in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
The term G-Zero world refers to a breakdown in global leadership brought about by a decline of Western influence and the inability of other nations to fill the void. It is a reference to a perceived shift away from the pre-eminence of the ["G7"] ("Group of Seven") industrialized countries and the expanded Group of Twenty, which includes major emerging powers like China, India, Brazil, Turkey, and others. In his book, Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World (New York: Portfolio, 2012), Bremmer explains that, in the G-Zero, no country or group of countries has the political and economic leverage to drive an international agenda or provide global public goods.
Weaponization of financeEdit
The term weaponization of finance refers to the foreign policy strategy of using incentives (access to capital markets) and penalties (varied types of sanctions) as tools of coercive diplomacy. In his Eurasia Group Top Risks 2015 report, Bremmer coins the term weaponization of finance to describe the ways in which the United States is using its influence to affect global outcomes. Rather than rely on traditional elements of America's security advantage – including US-led alliances such as NATO and multi-lateral institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund – Bremmer argues that the US is now 'weaponizing finance' by limiting access to the American marketplace and to US banks as an instrument of its foreign and security policy.
Bremmer uses pivot state to describe a nation that is able to build profitable relationships with multiple other major powers without becoming overly reliant on any one of them. This ability to hedge allows a pivot state to avoid capture—in terms of security or economy—at the hands of a single country. In his book, Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World (New York: Portfolio, 2012), Bremmer explains how, in a volatile G-Zero world, the ability to pivot will take on increased importance. At the opposite end of the spectrum are shadow states that are frozen within the influence of a single power. The United States' neighbors illustrate the terms very well. With significant trade ties with both the United States and Asia and formal security ties with NATO, Canada is a good example of a pivot state that is hedged against a slowdown in or conflict with any single major power. Mexico, on the other hand, is a shadow state due to its overwhelming reliance on the US economy.
Bremmer has coined the term “geopolitical recession” to describe the current geopolitical environment, one defined by an unwind of the former US-led global order. Unlike economic recessions, with boom and bust cycles that play out frequently, Bremmer believes that geopolitical recessions are much longer cycles, and accordingly are less likely to be recognized as such.
The present geopolitical recession is defined by deteriorating relations between the US and its traditional allies—particularly the Europeans—as China is rising but creating alternative international political and economic architecture. Bremmer argues that the overall result is a more fragmented approach to global governance, an increase in geopolitical tail risks, and a reduced ability to respond effectively to major international crises when they do hit.
In 2016, Bremmer founded the Eurasia Group Foundation (EGF), a 501(c)3 public charity. EGF is committed to helping people make meaning out of the impact geopolitics has on their lives and empowering them to get involved in the issues that matter to them most. It takes complex issues and ensures they are accessible to everyone through traditional and nontraditional media.
In 2016, EGF created its first social media campaign to raise awareness in American voters about the foreign policy issues informing the presidential election. From that foundation, EGF created and produced Technology, Power and You, a campaign on technology and the future, and Inevitable Adversaries: The US-Russia Relationship, which explores the complicated US-Russia relationship.
In 2019, it launched Independent America, a multi-year project exploring what a more restrained US foreign policy would look like,to Americans and people all across the world. It also partnered with Marginal Revolution University to develop Globalization and You, a free, one-week curriculum exploring the pros and cons of globalization. The goal is to educate youth, particularly those with less opportunity to engage with the complicated issues surrounding geopolitics.
Bremmer currently serves as the Eurasia Group Foundation’s board president.
EGF is run by Executive Director Allyn B. Summa; EGF research is directed by Senior Fellow Mark Hannah.
In March 2016, Bremmer sent a weekly note to clients where he unintentionally came up with Trump’s “America First” slogan. The note described then-candidate Trump’s foreign policy as not isolationist but “America First,” a transactional, unilateralist perspective that was more a Chinese than American framework for foreign policy. Bremmer used the term to help explain Trump’s foreign policy views and not as a campaign slogan.
A few weeks later New York Times reporters David Sanger and Maggie Haberman, both of whom receive Bremmer’s weekly note, conducted Trump’s first foreign policy interview and asked him if he would describe himself as an isolationist. He said no. They then asked Trump if he considered himself America First. Trump said yes and liked the term so much he started using it himself. Haberman later credited Bremmer with coming up with “America First” to describe Trump’s foreign policy.
In July 2017, Bremmer broke news of a second, previously undisclosed meeting between Presidents Trump and Putin during the G20 heads of state dinner in Hamburg. Bremmer wrote about the meeting in his weekly client note and later appeared on Charlie Rose to discuss the meeting’s implications. The news was quickly picked up by other major media outlets such as The Rachel Maddow Show, Fox, and CNN. Newsweek also profiled Bremmer in an article titled “Who is Eurasia Group’s Ian Bremmer, the risk consultant who exposed the second Trump-Putin meeting?” President Trump initially denied his second meeting with Putin happened and called Bremmer “fake news.” However, then-White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders later held a press conference and admitted the second meeting indeed happened.
In 2019, Bremmer created a “Twitter controversy” and was criticized on Twitter for posting a tweet that appeared to quote President Donald J. Trump. The tweet read: “President Trump in Tokyo: ‘Kim Jong Un is smarter and would make a better President than Sleepy Joe Biden.’” After the tweet went viral, Bremmer acknowledged on Twitter that President Trump did not in fact say that quote, and apologized saying: “My tweet yesterday about Trump preferring Kim Jong Un to Biden as President was meant in jest. The President correctly quoted me as saying it was a ‘completely ludicrous’ statement. I should have been clearer. My apologies.” President Trump used the incident to call for stronger libel laws.
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- Harold J. Newman Distinguished Fellow in Geopolitics, Asia Society Policy Institute
- Presidents Council, Near East Foundation
- Leadership Council, Concordia
- Board of Directors, Intelligence Squared
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