Christopher Smart
Request Availability

Travels From: Massachusetts

Fee: 4

Christopher Smart

Former Senior U.S. Economic Policymaker; Global Investor; Economist

After a successful investment career, Christopher Smart led the U.S. Treasury’s response to the European financial crisis and served as President Obama’s senior director on trade and international economic policy. Currently an author and a senior fellow at Harvard, he shares fascinating perspectives on the dynamics of global financial markets, the political forces driving key economic debates, and a range of challenges from Brexit negotiations, to Russian sanctions, to the outlook for Asian trade.

Investment Strategy Amid the Challenges of 21st-Century Populism

Global bond markets are the ultimate arbiters of sensible economic policy. To the extent that voters push government officials toward self-defeating, protectionist policies, investors should ask for a higher return. Emerging markets like Brazil and South Africa learned the hard way that borrowing internationally requires them to maintain a certain economic orthodoxy that doesn’t always win votes. During the European financial crisis, bond spreads forced political leaders to make deeply unpopular decisions to save the euro.

What signs are visible in today’s markets to suggest discomfort with populist forces or worries about new challenges to trade rules? Will votes for Brexit and Donald Trump ultimately lead to higher borrowing costs?  How should multinational companies whose business models depend on long supply chains and frictionless border crossings adjust?

What to Do About Russia?

The sharp recent turn in the U.S.-Russia relationship has driven a stake into what was left of a gasping effort on both sides to find common ground. Washington is focused on punishing Russia for its annexation of Crimea, its support of Syrian repression and, above all, its meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The narrative in Moscow, meanwhile, paints the United States as an overreaching power actively expanding the West’s footholds around Russia’s borders with an ultimate goal of regime change in the Kremlin itself. It’s not just that neither side knows how to get relations back on track, it’s that neither side wants to.

But can such an important relationship get even worse? Will the tensions over fake news and cyberspace spill over into nuclear re-armament or open hostilities? What guidance do the Cold War and post-Soviet relations offer to limit the risks and secure at least some cooperation on challenges of nuclear proliferation, energy policy or climate change?

The Next Global Crisis (Will Start in China)

As Chinese financial markets grow larger and more integrated, volatility will no longer be contained to the accounts of niche emerging markets investors. Rapidly expanding financial flows to and from China, even in the context of capital controls, mean that shocks from Chinese markets will increasingly reverberate globally. U.S. and European regulators still struggle to establish coordinating mechanisms to manage bank failures and market turmoil on both sides of the Atlantic, but they have only the dimmest understanding of China’s largest financial institutions and Western exposures to a sharp Chinese downturn.

What can Western regulators do to improve transparency into China’s banking and insurance giants? In the next crisis, will Chinese officials engage openly with foreign counterparts to restore confidence in markets or will they revert to comfortable habits of pretending the problem will go away?

 

Data, Data, Everywhere—But Who Will Set the Rules?

As traditional global trade in goods and services has leveled off, cross-border data flows continue to expand rapidly and the challenges of developing policies that protect privacy, security, and innovation are growing more complex by the day. Cheap storage, mobile connectivity, and sophisticated analytics mean airlines can predict engine trouble, factories can slash operating costs, and drivers who allow their cars to be monitored can buy cheaper insurance. But all this requires data that moves easily and seamlessly across borders and so far the United States and Europe have only managed a fragile regime to protect transatlantic data flows for a narrow range of commercial purposes.

How will they regulate the proliferation of data in finance, health care, and industrial operations? How will they support innovation while protecting privacy and national security? How will voters or companies become involved in shaping these new rules? If Washington and Brussels can’t agree, there’s little hope the rest of the world will either.

Meet Christopher Smart

After a successful investment career, Christopher Smart led the U.S. Treasury’s response to the European financial crisis and served as President Obama’s senior director on trade and international economic policy. Currently an author and a senior fellow at Harvard, he shares fascinating perspectives on the dynamics of global financial markets, the political forces driving key economic debates, and a range of challenges from Brexit negotiations, to Russian sanctions, to the outlook for Asian trade.

Christopher Smart shares his rare and fascinating perspectives on global economic issues, trade policy, and the dynamics of financial markets. As Special Assistant to the President at the National Security Council, he was principal advisor on trade, investment, and a wide range of issues from the commercial implications of data regulation to the national security reviews of foreign investment. From 2009 to 2013, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, where he led the U.S. response to the European financial crisis and designed U.S. engagement on financial policy across Europe, Russia, and Central Asia. Before entering government, Dr. Smart was director of international investments at Pioneer Investments, where he managed top-performing emerging markets and international portfolios. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, he worked in Moscow, advising Russian government agencies on economic policy and financial market reform. Earlier in his career, he was a journalist in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Paris, France. He holds a doctorate in international relations from Columbia University and speaks fluent French, Russian, and German.

Topics: Types:

People also viewed:

Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers (2013–2017); Principal Deputy Director, National Economic Council and Assistant to President Barack Obama (2009–2013)

Editor-at-Large, Vox; Columnist, Bloomberg News and Policy Analyst/Contributor, MSNBC

Economic Analyst; Senior Economic Contributor, CNN; Contributor, CNBC; Professor; New York Times Best-Selling Author; Advisor to Presidents and Former Secretary of Labor