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Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies

Expertise

Climate change; energy policy; weapons of mass destruction; homeland security; arms control and proliferation; technology and foreign policy; science and technology in the Islamic world.

Bio

Michael Levi is the David M. Rubenstein senior fellow for energy and the environment at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), director of CFR’s Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, and director of the CFR program on energy security and climate change. He is an expert on energy, climate change, nuclear security, and the interplay of global economics and international politics.

Before joining CFR, Dr. Levi was a nonresident science fellow and a science and technology fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution. Prior to that, he was director of the Federation of American Scientists' Strategic Security Project.

Dr. Levi is author of four books, including most recently The Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity, and the Battle for America's Future (Oxford University Press, 2013), and By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest is Changing the World (with Elizabeth Economy, Oxford University Press, 2014). He is currently working on a book on the global consequences of China’s economic transformation.

Dr. Levi has testified before Congress and presented expert scientific evidence to the National Academy of Sciences on climate change and on nuclear security. His essays have been published in Foreign AffairsForeign PolicyNature, and Scientific American, among others; his op-eds have appeared in the New York TimesWashington PostWall Street Journal, and Financial Times. Dr. Levi previously wrote a monthly online column on science and security for the New Republic, and served as a technical consultant to the critically acclaimed television drama 24. He currently writes a blog on energy, climate, and nuclear issues.

Dr. Levi serves on the mission committee of the Board of Governors of Los Alamos / Lawrence Livermore National Security; the strategic advisory board of NewWorld Capital LLC; and the Advisory Council of Princeton University’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative.

Dr. Levi holds a BSc (Hons.) in mathematical physics from Queen's University (Kingston) and an MA in physics from Princeton University. He holds a PhD in war studies from the University of London (King's College), where he was the SSHRC William E. Taylor fellow. He lives in New York.

Energy, Economics, and International Security

Energy has long been intimately connected with the global economy and international relations. But with rapid changes in the energy landscape, the international economy, and world affairs, scholars' and policymakers' understandings of how energy influences the world are increasingly out of date. In 2010, I convened a workshop to identify important research questions in this space, and published a working paper outlining important areas for investigation. Since then, I've led an effort to answer many of those questions (along with others that have emerged) through a mix of my own research, commissioned papers, and intensive workshops. My own recent work has produced, among other products, books on the future of U.S. energy and Chinese resource strategy and papers on natural gas exports, the influence of oil in international diplomacy, and the potential role of oil taxes in fiscal reform. Commissioned papers have addressed matters ranging from oil dependence in the Chinese military to the impact of falling U.S. oil imports on the current account. Future activities will continue to illuminate and clarify the relationships between energy, economics, and international security, with an eye toward insights that can inform pressing policy decisions.

This project is made possible through the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Climate Change and Foreign Policy

Climate change is the ultimate foreign policy problem: meeting the aggressive emissions-cutting goals agreed to by governments will require strong action from every major economy in the world. Effectively tackling climate change will require sustained dialogue and collaboration between the climate change and foreign policy communities, much as effective Cold War arms control required collaboration between specialists in nuclear weapons and in foreign policy. My activities aim to build these dialogues through two main means. I conduct and publish research on connections between energy production and climate change, in policy and scientific journals, and convene dialogues that mix energy producers and people who focus on climate change. Since energy production is a critical part of the international security and foreign policy landscape, this is essential to bridging the two worlds. I also host a series of roundtable discussions that expose foreign policy experts to recent developments in the climate change world. My ongoing activities extend both efforts while deepening a two-way dialogue between the climate policy and foreign policy communities.

International Economics and International Security

The world is economically interdependent like at no time since the outbreak of World War I. Friends and rivals alike are enmeshed in economic relationships that inevitably shape—and are shaped by—their broader foreign policy and international security interactions. Security experts, however, often lack sufficient background to understand the consequences of economic developments, while experts on economics and markets are seldom engaged with security issues beyond their strictly economic implications.  My colleagues and I at the Center for Geoeconomic Studies seek to narrow this divide. We aim to do this through two primary activities: convening workshops of scholars and practitioners from both sides of the gulf between economics/markets and foreign/security policy thinking, and producing analyses of historical and contemporary policy challenges that present and compare interpretations of those challenges from both the economics and security perspectives. Through these efforts, we hope to promote a more integrated approach to foreign policy and to provide policymakers with resources that allow them to more effectively address global security risks.

This project is made possible through the support of Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Featured Publications

All Publications

Op-Ed

Department of Energy Pursuing Sound Strategy but Funding is Vulnerable

Authors: Michael A. Levi and Adam Segal
Nature

As part of a larger publication, assessing the effectiveness of the economic stimulus, Michael Levi and Adam Segal write that the Department of Energy is pursuing a "prudent and sound" strategy for investing their share. The more pressing concern, according to Levi and Segal, is that Congress may forgo funding the department in favor of more "politically attractive" options.

See more in Financial Crises; Energy Policy; United States

Op-Ed

Gas Guzzlers

Author: Michael A. Levi
Foreign Policy

Although the surging oil consumption in India and China is often cited as the reason for skyrocketing oil prices, Michael Levi points out that they are only part of the picture. Due to massive oil subsidies, many Middle East countries are note just major producers, but major consumers of oil and are responsible, in part, for the growing oil prices over the last few years.

See more in Middle East and North Africa; Oil

Article

Living on Canada's Oil

Author: Michael A. Levi
Slate

Michael A. Levi argues that a price on carbon would provide the United States energy security and prod the Canadian oil sands industry to clean up its emissions act.

See more in Canada; Oil

Council Special Report No. 47

The Canadian Oil Sands

Author: Michael A. Levi

The Canadian oil sands present an important challenge to policymakers: they promise energy security benefits but present climate change problems. Michael A. Levi assesses the energy security and climate change effects of the oil sands and makes recommendations for U.S. policymakers within the context of broader bilateral relations with Canada.

See more in Canada; Climate Change; Oil

Council Special Report No. 39

Deterring State Sponsorship of Nuclear Terrorism

Author: Michael A. Levi

Unlike during the Cold War, the threat of nuclear attack now comes from rogue states that receive their weapons from sovereign nations. In this report, Michael A. Levi outlines how to discourage those nations from giving their nuclear technologies to terrorists, how to prevent accidental transfers, and the role that nuclear attribution plays in contemporary proliferation.

See more in United States; Proliferation; State Sponsors of Terrorism

Task Force Report No. 61

Confronting Climate Change

Against the backdrop of increasing attention to climate change in the presidential campaigns, debate of the Lieberman-Warner climate bill in the Senate, and preparations for this summer's G8 summit, this report recommends an overhaul of U.S. domestic and foreign policy to confront the challenges of climate change.

See more in Climate Change; United States

Recent Activity from Energy, Security, and Climate

CFR Events

Conference Call

Conference Call: Beyond the Paris Climate Agreement--Implementation and Next Steps

Speaker Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


Presider Robert McMahon

Managing Editor, CFR Editorial, Council on Foreign Relations

April 22, 2016 11:00 a.m.-11:45 a.m.

April 22, 2016

This meeting is on the record.

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Conference Call

Global Markets and the Chinese Economy

Speakers Sebastian Mallaby

Paul A. Volcker Senior Fellow for International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations

, Brad W. Setser

Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations


Presider Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

January 6, 2016 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

January 6, 2016

This meeting is on the record.

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Conference Call ⁄ New York

Media Call: Global Implications of the Federal Reserve's Decision to Hike Rates

December 17, 2015 2:00 p.m.-2:50 p.m.

December 17, 2015

This meeting is not for attribution.

Conference Call

Conference Call: Assessing the Paris Climate Talks

Speakers Andy Karsner

Senior Advisor, Emerson Collective; Senior Advisor, Google X; Former Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy

, Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


Presider Sherri W. Goodman

President and Chief Executive Officer, Consortium for Ocean Leadership

December 17, 2015 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

December 17, 2015

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ New York

World Energy Outlook 2015 with Fatih Birol

Speaker Fatih Birol

Executive Director, International Energy Agency


Presider Michael A. Levi

Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies

December 1, 2015 5:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m.


5:00 p.m.—5:30 p.m. Reception
5:30 p.m.—6:30 p.m. Meeting
*Please note special timing*
December 1, 2015

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

Media Call: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal

Presider Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


Speakers Sheila A. Smith

Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Edward Alden

Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow and Director of the Renewing America Initiative, Council on Foreign Relations

October 6, 2015 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

October 6, 2015

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

CFR Back-to-School Event: International Efforts to Combat Climate Change

Introductory Speaker Irina A. Faskianos

Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations


Speakers Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and
Director, Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Varun Sivaram

Douglas Dillon Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; Strategic Advisor, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision Initiative


Presider Amy Harder

Energy Reporter, Wall Street Journal

October 2, 2015

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

Media Call: The Federal Reserve's Interest Rate Decision

Speakers Benn Steil

Senior Fellow and Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations

, Robert Kahn

Steven A. Tananbaum Senior Fellow for International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations


Presider Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

The Implications of the Federal Reserve Interest Rate Decision

September 18, 2015 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.


The Implications of the Federal Reserve Interest Rate Decision

September 18, 2015 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

September 18, 2015

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ New York

Policy Options for Addressing Climate Change

Speakers Mitchell C. Hescox

President and Chief Executive Officer, Evangelical Environmental Network

, Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and
Director, Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Christine Todd Whitman

President, The Whitman Strategy Group LLC; Former
Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency; Former Governor, State of New Jersey


Moderator Richard N. Haass

President, Council on Foreign Relations

May 20, 2015 8:30–9:45 a.m.

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

Media Call on Framework Agreement to Limit Iran's Nuclear Program

Speakers Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies

, Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies


Presider David E. Sanger

National Security Correspondent, New York Times

April 3, 2015 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

International Efforts to Combat Climate Change

Speaker Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


Moderator Maria Casa

Director, National Program and Outreach Administration, Council on Foreign Relations

March 25, 2015 12:00–1:00 p.m. - (ET)

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ New York

World Economic Update

Speakers Lewis Alexander

Managing Director and Chief U.S. Economist, Nomura Securities International Inc.; Former Counselor to the Secretary, U.S. Department of the Treasury

, Philippe Legrain

Senior Fellow, The European Institute, London School of Economics; Former Economic Advisor to the President, European Commission

, Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


Presider Sebastian Mallaby

Paul A. Volcker Senior Fellow for International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations

January 21, 2015 7:45–8:00 a.m. - Breakfast
8:00–9:00 a.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ New York

Conference Call: Assessing the U.S.-China Climate Deal

Speaker Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy
and the Environment, and Director, Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


Presider Robert McMahon

Editor, CFR.org

November 14, 2014 2:00–3:00 p.m. - Conference Call

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

Risk and Geopolitics

Speakers Samuel Greene

Director, Russia Institute, King's College London

, Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations

, Anatol Lieven

Chair, International Relations, War Studies Department, King's College London

, Thomas Rid

Professor of Security Studies, King's College London


Presider Gideon Rose

Peter G. Peterson Chair and Editor, Foreign Affairs

March 25, 2014 2:00–3:00 p.m.

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

Meeting ⁄ Washington

DC Fellows' Book Launch Series--By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest is Changing the World

Speakers Elizabeth C. Economy

C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations


Presider James M. Lindsay

Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations

February 4, 2014 5:30–6:00 p.m. - Registration
6:00–6:45 p.m. - Meeting
6:45–7:15 p.m. - Reception and Book Signing

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ New York

CFR Fellows' Book Launch Series--By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest is Changing the World

Speakers Elizabeth C. Economy

C.V. Starr Fellow and Director for Asia Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations


Presider Richard N. Haass

President, Council on Foreign Relations

January 29, 2014 5:30–6:00 p.m. - Reception
6:00–6:45 p.m. - Discussion
6:45–7:15 p.m. - Cocktail Reception and Book Signing

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ New York

CEO Speaker Series: The Future of Energy

Panelists Christophe de MargerieChairman and Chief Executive Office, TOTAL S.A.; Member, CFR Global Board of Advisers, Paolo ScaroniChief Executive Officer, Eni; Member, CFR Global Board of Advisors, Michael A. LeviDavid M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, Council on Foreign Relations
Presider David M. RubensteinCofounder and Co-Chief Executive Officer, The Carlyle Group; Vice Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations; Chair, CFR Global Board of Advisers
October 7, 2013 12:30–1:00 p.m. - Lunch
1:00–2:00 p.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

Michael Levi and Peter Orszag on America's Energy Future

Speakers Michael A. Levi

Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations

, Peter R. Orszag

Vice Chairman of Global Banking, Citigroup


Presider Robert McMahon

Editor, CFR.org, Council on Foreign Relations

May 3, 2013

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

Climate Change and the Obama Administration

Speaker Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations


Moderator Irina A. Faskianos

Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations

February 21, 2013 12:00–1:00 p.m. - (ET)

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

President Obama's Energy Agenda

Speaker Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations


Presider Anya Schmemann

Director, Editorial Strategy, Studies Program and Director, Task Force Program, Council on Foreign Relations

February 14, 2013

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ New York

CFR 90th Anniversary Series on Renewing America: The Future of Energy

Speakers Michael A. LeviDavid M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, Council on Foreign Relations, William F. MartinChairman, Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee, U.S. Department of Energy; Former Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy, David SandalowAssistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs, U.S. Department of Energy
Presider Thomas WallinEditor in Chief, Energy Intelligence Group
June 8, 2011 5:30–6:00 p.m. - Reception
6:00–7:00 p.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

Energy Innovation in Brazil, China, and India: U.S. Policy Implications

Speakers Michael A. LeviDavid M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations, Shannon K. O'NeilDouglas Dillon Fellow for Latin America Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Presider Irina A. FaskianosVice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations
February 2, 2011

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

U.S. Options for Copenhagen

Speakers Frank E. LoyChair, Board of Directors, PSI, Michael A. LeviDavid M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, CFR, Daniel M. PriceSenior Partner for Global Issues, Sidley Austin, LLP
Presider Juliet EilperinNational Environment Reporter, Washington Post
November 10, 2009

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

China 2025: Panel Two: China Goes Global

Moderator Sheila A. SmithSenior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Panelists Evan A. FeigenbaumSenior Fellow for East, Central, and South Asia, Council on Foreign Relations, Michael A. LeviDavid M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations, Adam SegalMaurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, David H. ShinnAdjunct Professor, George Washington University
October 19, 2009

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

The United States and the Future of Global Governance: Tackling Climate Change

Speakers Paula J. DobrianskySenior International Affairs and Trade Advisor, Baker & Hostetler LLP and former Under Secretary, Democracy and Global Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Michael A. LeviDavid M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, Council on Foreign Relations, William John AntholisManaging Director, The Brookings Institution
Moderator Jessica T. MathewsPresident, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
May 7, 2009 - May 8, 2009

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ New York

On Nuclear Terrorism

Speaker Michael A. LeviFellow for Science and Technology, Council on Foreign Relations
Introductory Speaker Richard N. HaassPresident, Council on Foreign Relations
November 20, 2007 5:30–7:00 p.m. - Cocktail Reception and Book Signing with informal remarks at 6:00 PM

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ Washington

Can Coal be Clean? The Promise of Climate Change Technology

Speakers Ernest J. MonizCecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems, Director, MIT Energy Initiative, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rick BoucherMember, U.S. House of Representatives (D-VA)
Presider Michael A. LeviFellow for Science and Technology and Director, Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations
September 18, 2007 8:00–8:30 a.m. - Breakfast reception
8:30–9:30 a.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

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Climate Change Mitigation Beyond Paris

Speakers Claudio Descalzi

Chief Executive Officer, Eni

, Daniel M. Price

Managing Director, Rock Creek Global Advisors; Former Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, White House

, Christine Todd Whitman

President, Whitman Strategy Group; Member, Board of Directors, Council on Foreign Relations; Former Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (2001-2003)


Presider Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

This meeting is not for attribution.

Behavioral Finance and Economic Policymaking

Speakers Willem H. Buiter

Global Chief Economist, Citigroup, Inc.; Adjunct Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

, Paul A. Volcker

Founder and Chairman, Volcker Alliance; Former Chairman, Federal Reserve

, Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León

Director, Center for the Study of Globalization, Yale University; Former President, Mexico


Presider Gillian Tett

U.S. Managing Editor, Financial Times


Closing Speaker Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

This meeting is not for attribution.

Press/Panels

Radio Interview

WNYC: The Power Surge as Weekend Reading

Joe Nocera will be reading The Power Surge by Michael Levi, an energy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. "He's a pragmatist. He doesn't buy into the pieties of the right or the pieties of the left. He thinks about practical solutions, what works, what doesn't, what makes sense, and where we're truly headed in terms of energy."

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