Opinion

Chrystia Freeland

What happens when citizens lose faith in government?

Chrystia Freeland
Aug 5, 2011 14:32 UTC

Tolstoy thought unhappy families were unique in their unhappiness.

But when it comes to countries, these days the world’s gloomy ones have a lot in common. From Fukushima to Athens, and from Washington to Wenzhou, China, the collective refrain is that government doesn’t work.

“2011 will be the year of distrust in government,” said Richard Edelman, president and chief executive of Edelman, the world’s largest independent public relations firm.

For the past decade, Mr. Edelman has conducted a global survey of which institutions we have confidence in and which ones are in the doghouse. In 2010, the villains were in the private sector — from BP, to Toyota, to Goldman Sachs, corporations and their executives were the ones behaving badly.

But this year, Mr. Edelman said, we are losing faith in the state: “From the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, to the government’s response to the earthquake in Japan, from the high-speed rail crash in China, to the debt ceiling fight in Washington, people around the world are losing faith in their governments.”

Even the Arab Spring, Mr. Edelman mused, was an extreme expression of the same breakdown in the people’s support for those who rule them.

When the hacker ethos meets capitalism

Chrystia Freeland
Feb 11, 2011 14:25 UTC

The uprising in Egypt has provoked the familiar “realism-versus-idealism” foreign policy debate in many Western capitals, as diplomats and politicians struggle to balance their ideological sympathy for the protesters against fears of chaos and the threat of a future anti-Western and anti-Israel policy from Cairo if the people do win.

What we have paid less attention to is that the demonstrations have forced some of the world’s hottest technology companies to engage in a very similar debate. The conclusions these technorati end up drawing may be as significant as the verdicts of Western governments. This new intellectual battleground is a further sign that in the age of the Internet and the global economy, foreign policy doesn’t belong just to professionals or to states any more.

The quandary Egypt poses for technology companies – particularly the power troika of Google, Facebook and Twitter – goes far beyond the classic corporate social responsibility concerns that have become standard operating practice at big multinationals.

Davos Today with Chrystia Freeland, January 26th edition

Chrystia Freeland
Feb 3, 2011 15:31 UTC

Last week at Davos, Chrystia anchored an hour-long daily talk show that featured many of the World Economic Forum’s most exciting participants.  Last Wednesday’s edition featured a segments on frugal innovation in India with two top Indian businessmen; the state of trust in business and government today with a behavioral economist and two CEOs; an appraisal of President Obama’s State of the Union from two pre-eminent economists; and more.  Here’s the video and the guest list:

* T.K. Kurien, CEO, Wipro IT

* Richard Edelman, President and CEO, Edelman

* Dan Ariely, James B. Duke Professor of Behavioral Economics, Duke University Fuqua School of Business

* L. Kevin Kelly, CEO, Heidrick & Struggles

* David Schlesinger, Editor-in-Chief, Reuters

* Raghuram Rajan, Eric J. Gleacher Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

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