New Era, New Possibilities

Editor Andrea Fiano's monthly letter to you, the reader.

FEBRUARY 2020 | VOL. 34  NO. 2

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Nobody can claim that the new decade started out dull. Consider just a few of the key geopolitical and economic forces at play in the first weeks of 2020: tensions in Iraq, tensions between the US and Iran, tensions between the US and China (relieved a bit by a phase-one agreement), and a major confrontation on climate change at the Davos summit.

Uncertainty, accompanied by social and civic unrest in many countries, is widespread. The recent upswings of financial markets could prove to be deceptive or ephemeral. Any executive knows that the current global and regional risks have to be taken into account in decision-making.

We chose to focus our cover story on Europe and its future for several reasons, including the fact that Brexit will certainly reshape the European Union, impacting its strength and its functionality. With widespread pessimism about many aspects of Europe, from technology to growth, one wonders if the Old World risks a “lost decade”—like Japan in the ’90s—or whether, on the contrary, it will get stronger, even finding a way to take advantage of the changing global landscape, and become more cohesive post-Brexit.

To the informative analysis by Laurence Neville we have added an interview with Columbia University professor Anu Bradford, author of The Brussels Effect: How the European Union Rules the World, published this month. The book describes how the EU has—unexpectedly—been a leader in global regulation, as many European standards have become the de facto standards worldwide.

Overall, the discussion of Europe’s future growth and unity—and of the potential of the European Central Bank under the new leadership of Christine Lagarde—suggests that what currently appear to be weaknesses could emerge as strengths, and that some of the EU’s recent achievements are easily overlooked. Maybe the Brussels Effect will expand from regulation to other areas. The jury is still out, and the decade has just started.

Andrea Fiano | Editor