image

Sebastian Mallaby

Paul A. Volcker Senior Fellow for International Economics

Expertise

Globalization, international finance, monetary policy, hedge funds.

Programs

The Stephen C. Freidheim Symposium on Global Economics , World Economic Update Series , High-Level Roundtable Series on International Economics , Roundtable on Global Economics

Bio

Sebastian Mallaby is Paul A. Volcker senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). An experienced journalist and public speaker, Mr. Mallaby has served as a contributing editor for the Financial Times and as a columnist and editorial board member at the Washington Post. His interests cover a wide variety of domestic and international issues, including financial markets, the implications of the rise of newly emerging powers, and the intersection of economics and international relations. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Atlantic Monthly.

Mr. Mallaby is currently writing a biography of the former Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan. His previous book, More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite, was released in June 2010. New York Times columnist David Brooks has called it "superb." Washington Post columnist Steve Pearlstein has called it "the definitive history of the hedge fund, a compelling narrative full of larger-than-life characters and dramatic tales of their financial triumphs and reversals." More Money Than God was the recipient of the 2011 Loeb Prize, a finalist in the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs prize, and a New York Times bestseller. Mr. Mallaby's earlier books are The World's Banker (2004), a portrait of the World Bank under James Wolfensohn, which was named as an "Editor's Choice" by the New York Times; and After Apartheid (1992), which was named by the New York Times as a "Notable Book." An essay in the Financial Times said of The World's Banker, "Mallaby's book may well be the most hilarious depiction of a big organization and its controversial boss since Michael Lewis's, Liar's Poker."

Before joining the Post in 1999, Mr. Mallaby spent thirteen years with the Economist. While at the Economist, he worked in London, where he wrote about foreign policy and international finance; in Africa, where he covered Nelson Mandela's release and the collapse of apartheid; and in Japan, where he covered the breakdown of the country's political and economic consensus. Between 1997 and 1999, Mr. Mallaby was the Economist's Washington bureau chief and wrote the magazine's weekly Lexington column on American politics and foreign policy. His Foreign Affairs essay on failed states in 2002 was cited by commentators in the New York Times, Financial Times, and Time Magazine. He is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist: once for editorials on Darfur and once for a series on economic inequality.

Mr. Mallaby was educated at Oxford. He graduated in 1986 with a First Class degree in modern history.

Alan Greenspan and the Making of the Modern Financial System

Alan Greenspan made his first foray onto the national scene in 1968 when he served as an advisor to the Nixon presidential campaign. From that point until his retirement from the Federal Reserve in 2006, Greenspan was at or near the center of economic and financial policy. Over those four decades, the United States moved from a gold link to a free-floating currency, from autarkic capital controls to globalized finance, and from a highly regulated banking system to free-wheeling markets. Greenspan was close to the decisions that drove these changes—whether through his stint as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors in the Ford years, through his many roles as an informal advisor to Republican administrations, through his positions on the boards of various financial institutions, or through his long years at the helm of the Federal Reserve. By tracing these twin threads, my forthcoming biography of the former Federal Reserve chairman will therefore tell two stories: the making of the man, and the making of the modern financial system.

Surveying the Global Crossroads of Politics and Finance

As globalization blurs the boundaries between national economies, the distinctions between political news and financial news are dissolving. Because events in one corner of the world can have major implications for markets around the globe, staying abreast of the latest political developments and economic data is essential in order to have a clear view of the forces shaping government and business decisions. Through roundtables, panel discussions, and quarterly World Economic Update meetings, I seek to put these current events in a larger macroeconomic context and consider their significance for leaders in both the public and private sector.

Featured Publications

All Publications

Op-Ed

Democrats, Off Course On Trade

Author: Sebastian Mallaby
Washington Post

In this Washington Post op-ed, Sebastian Mallaby argues that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have pushed trade populism beyond the point at which it can be easily forgiven.  Presidential primaries always seem to drive Democrats to the left—and this year's primaries have been painfully prolonged, damaging the party's credibility.

See more in United States; International Organizations and Alliances; Trade; Elections

Op-Ed

A Malaise Election

Author: Sebastian Mallaby
Washington Post

In this malaise election, should candidates be focusing on economic concerns or foreign policy? Sebastian Mallaby discusses the role of both in the 2008 election.

See more in Elections

Op-Ed

A Nobel Laureate's Primary

Author: Sebastian Mallaby
Washington Post

Last year's Nobel Prize in economics went to three founders of a field known as mechanism design theory - the rules by which people with varying preferences can reconcile their interests.  When applied to the presidential primaries, mechanism design theory finds that “just like badly designed auctions, the primaries encourage ‘strategic’ behavior that conceals true preferences.” To this end, Sebastian Mallaby argues that the primaries are even more absurd than most critics recognize.

See more in Elections

Op-Ed

Climate Obstacles Ahead

Author: Sebastian Mallaby
Washington Post

The good news on climate change is that the world wants to do something. The bad news is that none of these fine sentiments will matter unless a critical mass of countries unites around a real policy.  Delegates from around the world will meet next month in Bali, supposedly to launch negotiations on a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol. In this Washington Post op-ed, Sebastian Mallaby argues that while people agree that action is essential, they disagree so fiercely on the details that action may prove impossible.

See more in International Organizations and Alliances; Climate Change

Op-Ed

The Dollar in Danger

Author: Sebastian Mallaby
Washington Post

Since the breaking of the gold link, the dollar has become the world's primary measure of value.  But the dollar, like the gold standard before it, is under pressure. For the United States, a falling dollar means pricier imports but also an export boom that could carry the economy through its housing bust. Yet, for countries that use the euro, a weak dollar means a loss of competitiveness.  And for dollar-pegging Asian exporters, a falling dollar worsens the export boom that is overheating their economies. So the world faces a dilemma. Sebastian Mallaby argues that a long-term goal of an alternative global currency may be in order.

See more in United States; Monetary Policy

Op-Ed

Foreign Policy Grown-Up

Author: Sebastian Mallaby
Washington Post

As the presidential campaign heats up, Barack Obama has come out swinging against Hillary Clinton. In this Washington Post op-ed, Sebastian Mallaby writes that, alone among the Democratic candidates, Clinton has the honesty to insist that the case for war in Iraq was reasonable at the time - even if, with the benefit of hindsight, the invasion has proved disastrous. She is not running away from military power, even in a political climate that makes running attractive.  Likewise on Iran, Clinton is the only one to insist that sanctions are less a prelude to war than a means of forestalling it.  Mallaby claims that it is impressive and surprising that Clinton has risen above Bush hatred in forming her worldview.

See more in History and Theory of International Relations; Elections; United States

Op-Ed

A Booster for the World Bank

Author: Sebastian Mallaby
Washington Post

After the failed presidency of his predecessor, Robert Zoellick is off to a good start.  He has set himself up as an uncompromising booster- cutting interest rates on loans to middle-income countries to encourage them to borrow more and mobilizing money to increase assistance to the poorest.  Zoellick also recognizes that the World Bank can be used as a tool to manage the challenges presented by both globalization and rising powers such as China and India.  Sebastian Mallaby argues that the best shot at channeling the rising nations' power constructively is to reduce the political deficit in globalization- and Robert Zoellick is looking to do just that.

See more in United States; International Finance

Op-Ed

Bush's Unhealthy Vote

Author: Sebastian Mallaby
Washington Post

President Bush is poised to veto a bill that would expand health care for poor children, despite the fact that the bill has bipartisan backing and two-thirds of the public say they like it.  Bush’s objection to Congress's proposal is that it represents "an incremental step toward the goal of government-run health care."  In this Washington Post op-ed, Sebastian Mallaby argues that some degree of government intervention in health care is both inevitable and desirable.

See more in United States; Elections

Op-Ed

Energy Bedfellows: Countering OPEC through China-U.S. Cooperation

Author: Sebastian Mallaby
Washington Post

With OPEC flexing its muscles, the United States needs to make energy security a priority once again. In this Washington Post op-ed, Sebastian Mallaby argues that the United States ought to be boosting cooperation with fellow oil-consuming nations, particularly China. He advocates a proposal by Samuel Berger to form a multilateral green energy fund, in which China might invest some of the huge wealth created by its trade surpluses.

See more in Energy Policy; China

Op-Ed

Aid Goes Online; The Development World Awaits Its Bloomberg

Author: Sebastian Mallaby
Washington Post

Foreign assistance is an industry in itself: Every year, governments and charities spend some $200 billion on projects in poor countries. Development Executive Group, founded by Raj Kumar seven years ago, aspires to bring Bloomberg efficiency to the development business.  In this Washington Post op-ed, Sebastian Mallaby claims that foreign assistance is ripe for a Bloomberg-style leap forward.

See more in International Organizations and Alliances; Economic Development; Technology and Foreign Policy

Op-Ed

A Market Run on Rationality

Author: Sebastian Mallaby
Washington Post

The most vivid image amid last week's financial turmoil came from the nation's biggest mortgage lender, Countrywide Financial Corp. Scenes at Countrywide branches conjured those grainy black-and-white images of Depression-era bank runs. Fear has taken over, and sound institutions are suffering along with poorly managed ones. Sebastian Mallaby argues that markets are punishing Countrywide irrationally - and dozens of other basically sound companies are caught up in the maelstrom.

See more in Financial Crises; Financial Markets; United States

Events

The Stephen C. Freidheim Symposium on Global Economics

Staff: Sebastian Mallaby, Paul A. Volcker Senior Fellow for International Economics
May 12, 2009—Present

This endowed annual symposium was established in 2008 through the generosity of a gift from CFR member Stephen C. Freidheim, CIO and managing partner of Cyrus Capital Partners. The symposium addresses any of the broad spectrum of issues affecting Wall Street and international economics.

World Economic Update Series

Staff: Sebastian Mallaby, Paul A. Volcker Senior Fellow for International Economics
January 1, 2000—Present

A spirited exchange among chief economists and leading financial analysts, the WEU highlights the quarter's most important signals and emerging trends. Discussions cover changes in the global marketplace with special emphasis on current economic events and their implications for U.S. policy.

High-Level Roundtable Series on International Economics

Staff: Sebastian Mallaby, Paul A. Volcker Senior Fellow for International Economics
April 2010—Present

This roundtable series brings together senior financial experts from the private sector and the academic world to discuss ideas presented by a guest speaker on a pressing topic in international economics.

Roundtable on Global Economics

Director: Sebastian Mallaby, Paul A. Volcker Senior Fellow for International Economics
October 1, 2001—Present

This roundtable series brings together key players from the private markets, government, Federal Reserve, IMF, World Bank, and think tanks to discuss pressing policy issues in international economics. The group, which meets monthly, has so far discussed issues such as the impact of terrorism on economic prospects, the outlook for emerging markets, and U.S. trade policy.

CFR Events

Session Two: The Federal Reserve—Looking Back and Forward

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

World Economic Update

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

Foreign Affairs Media Call on the Nomination of Janet Yellen to Chair the Federal Reserve

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

An Overview of the Global Debt Crisis

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

Listen-Only Teleconference: Can the Eurozone be Rescued?

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Listen-Only Teleconference: World Economic Update

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

CFR Call: Debt Crisis Implications

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen

Charter Cities: New Options for the Bottom Billion

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

Currency Wars, Capital Controls, and the Outlook for the International Monetary System

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

Currency Wars, Capital Controls, and the Outlook for the International Monetary System

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

The History of Hedge Funds

This meeting is not for attribution.

Listen

The United States and Japan Looking Forward: New Opportunities, New Synergies, New Challenges

This meeting is not for attribution.

Read

More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

"More Money than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite"

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

Risk Spotting at Bloomberg

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

World Economic Update

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

Reforming Global Finance: The Squam Lake Papers

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

The Global Consequences of the Crisis

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

The United States and the Future of Global Governance: The Financial Crisis and Global Financial and Monetary Cooperation

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

The President's Inbox: Asia and the Economy

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

The Financial Crisis: Long Term Implications

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen

Wall Street in Crisis

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

New York Telephone Conference Call: Wall Street in Crisis

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen

Global Economic Trends: The Credit Crunch

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

Update on the Global Economy

This meeting is not for attribution.

Listen

A Foreign Policy Mandate? Thirty Years of Oil and Gas (Session 1)

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen

The Range of the Possible: Energy Alternatives in the Market (Session 2)

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen

What Next? Government Action and the Policy Puzzle (Session 3)

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen

Energy Policy and the Search for Alternatives: Keynote Address (Session 4)

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen

Funding an Energy Revolution? Ethanol and Energy Security

This meeting is on the record.

Read

The World's Banker and the World's Poor: A Complex Relationship

This meeting is not for attribution.

Read

Press/Panels