Zachary Karabell

Zachary Karabell is a New York-born author, columnist and investor who previously served as Head of Global Strategies at Envestnet, a publicly traded financial services firm.

He currently hosts the podcast “What Could Go Right?” and analyzes economic and political trends as president of River Twice Research. Karabell has written widely on economics, investing, history and international relations, and on the role and impact of alarmist thinking in our culture. He is also founder and director of the Possibility Project, a knowledge collective based at New America, a non-partisan think tank.

Previously, he was President of Fred Alger & Company, a broker-dealer, as well as Executive Vice-President, Chief Economist and Portfolio Manager at Fred Alger Management, a New York-based investment management firm.

At Alger, he oversaw the creation, launch and marketing of several funds, and led corporate strategy for strategic acquisitions. He was Portfolio Manager of the China-U.S. Growth Fund (CHUSX); and Executive Vice President of Alger's Spectra Funds. In addition, he founded and ran the River Twice Fund from 2011 to 2013, a $25 million alternative investment fund which used sustainable business as its primary investment theme.

Karabell taught at several leading universities, including as a History Tutor at Harvard University and as a Visiting Professor of Middle East History at Dartmouth College, as well as a History Lecturer at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

He sits on the board of New America and PEN America, and in 2003, the World Economic Forum designated him a "Global Leader for Tomorrow." He is a senior advisor for BSR (Business for Social Responsibility), a membership organization that works with global corporations on issues of sustainability.

Karabell received a BA in history from Columbia University and an MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies from St. Antony's College, University of Oxford. He earned his PhD in history/international relations from Harvard in 1996.


His most recent book, The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World, was published by Simon & Schuster in February 2014. His next book will be a two-century history of money, power and the making of America using the firm Brown Brothers Harriman as the narrative arc, to be published by Penguin Press in 2019.

Karabell is the author of 11 previous books, including The Last Campaign: How Harry Truman Won the 1948 Election (Vintage, 2004), which won the Chicago Tribune Heartland Award for best non-fiction book of the year in 2000. He also wrote Superfusion: How China and America Became One Economy and Why the World's Prosperity Depends On It (Simon & Schuster, 2009), and Sustainable Excellence: The Future of Business in the 21st Century with co-author Aron Cramer (Rodale, 2010).

Additionally, he authored Peace Be Upon You: Fourteen Centuries of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Conflict and Cooperation (Vintage, 2008); and Parting the Desert: The Creation of the Suez Canal (Vintage, 2004).

As a commentator, Karabell is a Contributing Editor for Politico and Contributor for Wired. Previously he wrote "The Edgy Optimist" column for Slate, Reuters, and The Atlantic. He is a LinkedIn Influencer, a CNBC Contributor, a regular commentator on MSNBC, and was a Contributing Editor for The Daily Beast. He has contributed to a panoply of major American and British newspapers, as well as writing for publications such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, The Atlantic, Time, Foreign Affairs, and The Guardian.




  • Cramer, Aron; Karabell, Zachary (2010). Sustainable Excellence: The Future of Business in a Fast-Changing World. Rodale Books. ISBN 9781605295343.
  • Karabell, Zachary (1999). Architects of Intervention: The United States the Third World and the Cold War 1946-1962. LSU Press. ISBN 9780807123416.
  • Karabell, Zachary (2004). Chester Alan Arthur (The American Presidents). Times Books. ISBN 9780805069518.
  • Karabell, Zachary; King, David C. (2002). The Generation Of Trust: Public Confidence In The U. S. Military Since Vietnam. AEI Press. ISBN 9780844741888.
  • Karabell, Zachary; Rosenberg, Jonathan (2003). Kennedy, Johnson, and the Quest for Justice: The Civil Rights Tapes. W. W. Norton Company. ISBN 9780393051223.
  • Karabell, Zachary (2000). The Last Campaign: How Harry Truman Won the 1948 Election. Knopf. ISBN 9780375400865.
  • Karabell, Zachary (2014). The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World. Simon Schuster. ISBN 9781451651201.
  • Karabell, Zachary (2003). Parting the desert: the creation of the Suez Canal. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-40883-5.
  • Karabell, Zachary (2007). Peace Be upon You: The Story of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Coexistence. Knopf. ISBN 9781400043682.
  • Karabell, Zachary (2008). People Of The Book: The Forgotten History Of Islam And The West. John Murray Publishers. ISBN 9780719567551.
  • Karabell, Zachary (2009). Superfusion: How China and America Became One Economy and Why the World's Prosperity Depends on It. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781416583707.
  • Karabell, Zachary (2002). A Visionary Nation: Four Centuries of American Dreams and What Lies Ahead. Harper Perennial. ISBN 9780060084424.
  • Karabell, Zachary (1998). What's College For?: The Struggle To Define American Higher Education. Basic Books. ISBN 9780465087709.

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