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Saturday 25.11.2017 | Name days: Kadrija, Kate, Katrīna, Trīne

Greatest thinkers of the modern world

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Foreign Policy has published its second annual list of the Top 100 Global Thinkers which fully reflects out modern world. Beginning with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, who teamed up to prove that even in tough times great new ideas can emerge, to forecasting economist Nouriel Roubini to political leaders Barack Obama and Angela Merkel, FP presents more than just their big ideas.

The first place is shared by Warren Buffett and Bill Gate. The two billionaires have been traveling the world — first to China and soon to India, as well as around the United States — on a mission to create a global club of “Great Givers” who will transform philanthropy from a pastime of the wealthy into a calling for everyone who is rich. So far, 40 billionaires have signed up.

Third place goes to US Presidents Barack Obama. He is still arguably the developed world’s most popular leader, even if the American public judges him more harshly, and he is slowly but surely inventing a new kind of U.S. leadership to go along with his vision of an America that once again projects its power through the force of its ideas. Such idealism has not yet come to define Obama’s legacy in the world; for all his Wilsonian rhetoric, he remains a cautious incrementalist on most issues. In many ways, he’s the most realist of recent U.S. presidents, determined to focus on the terrible challenges, from Afghanistan to climate change, that he’s been dealt. The world may yet thank him for it.

Top 10 ends with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In the throes of the financial crisis, when most political leaders were reaching for their copies of Keynes, Angela Merkel was partial to citing a less likely source of wisdom: The famously penny-pinching “Swabian housewife is the model for the world economy,” Merkel said in an unsubtle dig at credit-addicted Americans. Merkel has taken the same tough approach at home. After conceding the need for stimulus measures in 2008 and 2009, she insisted this year on making progress toward a balanced national budget. Judging from the results, Merkel’s frugality seems to have fared well against orthodox deficit spending: Germany enjoyed record growth in the second quarter of 2010, and its unemployment rate is now at its lowest since 1992. Keynes may have some lessons to learn after all from the German hausfrau.

The 17th place is shared by Amazon‘s Jeff Bezos and Apple‘s Steve Jobs who have literally reinvented a book. Amazon’s Kindle, the e-reader that Jeff Bezos’s online retail juggernaut has sold since 2007, is not particularly arresting as far as electronic fetish objects go, a monochromatic plastic slab with all the charisma of a graphing calculator. But on the strength of the gadget’s popularity, Bezos believes, his company will be selling more e-books than paperbacks by sometime next year.

Close to the end, 75th place goes to Burma’s dissident Aung San Suu Kyi. When she emerged from a house arrest that had lasted on and off for two decades, the world was impatient to hear what this symbol of Burma’s embattled resistance movement would have to say. Would she rage against her captors, the Burmese junta that had just days before staged its first, extraordinarily flawed election in two decades? Would she call for international intervention to end a regime that has become known for its vicious crackdowns on minority and opposition groups and a dangerously laissez-faire attitude toward the drug barons operating along its borders? Instead, the freed dissident made a remarkably levelheaded call for long-term reform of the sort that comes from within: “value change,” as she put it, not regime change. And she has already begun to take action, filing papers to reinstate her political party and promising an investigation into the recent election. As she said upon her release, “We have a lot of things to do.”

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