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Sina Odugbemi's blog

Quote of the Week: Matteo Renzi

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Matteo Renzi"We’re a young team— we want to invest in the new generation— but we’re not simply a young team.  Youth is the man of whatever age who risks believing in the possibility of change.”

- Matteo Renzi, Prime Minister of Italy since February 2014. Previously, he was the President of Florence Province from 2004 to 2009 and the Mayor of Florence from 2009 to 2014. At the age of 39 years and 42 days, he is the youngest Italian Prime Minister since unification in 1861 (he was younger than Benito Mussolini when he took office in 1922 by 52 days).  He is also the first to be elected Prime Minister as a Mayor and the second youngest leader in the European Council.

Is your ‘emerging market’ securely fashionable?

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Traders crowd the post that handles Morgan StanleySo-called ‘emerging markets’ might as well be styles of frocks and blouses in the world of haute couture; they are in and out of fashion with similar unpredictability. One moment a market is all the rage; the next moment it is in the pits of despond. It is an all too familiar if sorry tale. You know that an emerging market is in fashion via the global business press, especially when reporters, pundits, analysts as well as paid boosters and carnival barkers, all produce pieces on the market displaying breathless admiration: What a wonderful place to be this is! What astonishing prospects!

If the emerging market is particularly blessed it will feature in one of the fancy acronyms of the day: BRICS, MINTS, the Breakout Nations, etc. Investment bankers are proving fecund when it comes to dreaming up these meaningless acronyms (if they did not have such real-world consequences!). For once an emerging market is deemed ‘hot’, money flows into it. Investors and hustlers pile in. People who express doubt, urge caution or circumspection are drowned out by the frenzy of adoration and boosterism.

Eventually, inconvenient facts that are too significant to ignore begin to emerge regarding the much-fancied emerging market.

Quote of the Week: Thomas Piketty

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Thomas Piketty"This idea, according to which no one will accept to work hard for less than $10m per year... It's OK to pay someone 10, 20 times the average worker's salary but do you really need to pay them 100 or 200 times to their arses in gear?"

- Thomas Piketty, a French economist who works on wealth and income inequality. He is the author of the best-selling book Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2013), in which he argues that the rate of return on capital (wealth) in developed countries is persistently greater than economic growth. Other things being equal, he states, faster economic growth diminishes the importance of wealth in a society, while slower growth increases it. To counter the steady concentration of wealth, Piketty proposes a global tax on wealth. Piketty is also a professor at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), professor at the Paris School of Economics and Centennial professor at the London School of Economics.

Managing public opinion in the epic migration crisis

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Refugees line up at the UNHCR registration center in Tripoli, LebanonIn all the affected countries, the ongoing migration crisis centering on both the Middle East and Europe is many things. But it is also a public opinion management challenge of impressive girth and height. This is one of those instances where wise leaders will not make policy first and only thereafter ask communication advisers to go and ‘sell’ it. They will have their sharpest communication/political advisers in the room while making policy, especially as the situation evolves in ever more dramatic directions. And those advisers will, one hopes, be monitoring public opinion, consulting panels of voters, talking to deeply experienced players in the political system… all as vital inputs into the policy process.

Why is this a particularly ticklish public opinion management problem? Here is why: the fundamental emotional and values drivers of public opinion at work here are powerful ones, and they clash clangorously. The temptation in host communities is to keep outsiders out, especially people who look different, speak different tongues, worship different gods, and have all kinds of fundamental commitments that host communities might be wary of.  People often think that these primordial sentiments come into play only when transnational movements of people in large numbers happen. But for people like me who grew up in geographically plural, multinational societies (where different ethnic groups live in distinct parts of the country) we know that moving to another part of what is supposed to be your own country to live permanently can be an ego-shredding challenge. As we used to say in Nigeria, the ‘sons of the soil’ might not accept you.

Quote of the Week: Simon Schama

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Simon Schama"But populism is not the monopoly of the left. Its common thread is a loathing for politics as a corporate affair: relentlessly managed, image-calibrated, bankrolled and focus-tested."

-Simon Schama, an English historian specialising in art history, Dutch history, and French history. He is a University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University, New York and a contributing editor to the Financial Times.

Quoted in the Financial Times on August 29, 2015, "Beware the passionate preachers of populism".

Quote of the week: Amanda Foreman

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Amanda Foreman"In the feminist arena I have come across two sorts of activists: the ones who work every day on behalf of the truly disadvantaged to bring them healthcare, education, protection from violence, and political rights; and the grandstanders, the faux-Joan of Arcs ready for martyrdom as long as it’s in front of the cameras. They disgust me."

- Amanda Foreman, author of the prize-winning best sellers, ‘Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire', and 'A World on Fire: A Epic History of Two Nations Divided'. She is a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, The Sunday Times, and The Smithsonian Magazine. Her latest work is the BBC documentary series, 'The Ascent of Woman'. Her book on the history of women, 'The World Made by Women', will be published in 2016.

Quote of the week: J.K. Rowling

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J.K. Rowling"Those who choose not to empathise enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy."

-J.K. Rowling, a British novelist best known for writing the Harry Potter series. The books have gained worldwide attention, selling more than 400 million copies. Rowling led a "rags to riches" life story, in which she progressed from living on state benefits to multi-millionaire status within five years.

Quoted in her 2008 commencement speech at Harvard University that has been published as a new book, Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination, and re-published online by the Guardian, "JK Rowling's life advice: ten quotes on the lessons of failure"

Quote of the Week: Mariana Mazzucato

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Mariana Mazzucato“We are living in a depressing era in which we no longer have courage. We no longer think governments should have missions. But the market never chooses anything. IT wasn’t chosen by the market. Biotech wasn’t chosen by the market. Nanotech wasn’t chosen by the market. So why should green technology be chosen by the market? It comes back to the austerity craziness that we’re in today where governments are not allowed to dream; and green is a dream.”

-Mariana Mazzucato, an economist and author of The Entrepreneurial State: debunking public vs. private sector myths, which was featured on the 2013 books of the year lists of the Financial Times and Forbes. She is also the RM Phillips Professor in the Economics of Innovation at the University of Sussex, SPRU

Quote of the Week: Barrie Goodridge

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Hong Kong football spectators“You can change your home, you can change your country, you can even your wife, but you can never change your football team.”

- Barrie Goodridge, veteran of the publishing sector and former CEO of Edipresse Asia. In 1983, Goodridge joined Asiaweek, rising to the position of Publisher before leaving to join Global Sources Media Group. In 1997, he became the CEO for Asia of Publicitas Promotion Network (PPN), the international division of PubliGroupe. He joined Edipresse in 2004 as Regional Director for Asia and was later appointed CEO of Edipresse Asia in 2005.

Quote of the Week: Justin Farrell

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Justin Farrell, author of The Battle for Yellowstone"Environmental conflict is not ultimately about scientific true and false, but about moral right and wrong. It is not about the facts themselves, but what makes the facts meaningful. There are important moral and spiritual bases of conflict that observers and participants in the conflict have ignored, muted or simply misunderstood."

- Justin Farrell, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Yale University and the author of The Battle for Yellowstone