The world seen from the top

I love podcasts. And this one gives some perspective to our world. As seen by Angela Merkel interviewed by Lionel Barber from the Financial Times. From minute 4.17 to the end. Inspiring and sad. It’s about one of the most important leaders in the world – who happens to be a woman – who will retire from her top leadership position in 2021 and is asked to make sense of the world as she has seen it from the top. And it is also about the journalist who interviewed her, a leader in his own right, the former editor of the Financial Times, Lionel Barber who steps down himself from the position he held for 14 years as editor of the FT.

In the podcast Lionel Barber shares the highlights from his exclusive interview with German chancellor Angela Merkel. The world is very different from 15 years ago when Angela Merkel had been elected chancellor. The rise of nationalism has become an existential issue for Germany today. Still Angela Merkel continues to defend the benefits of the single market and of multilateralism. By defending Western values, she is projecting a Germany more engaged and active than ever. She sees the 27 member states of the EU as the anchor of her country’s foreign policy. The EU is both the main market for German goods and a global standard setter. Merkel considers the EU should be an alternative to the US and China and not in conflict with them. She also considers that data is going to be very important, but should not belong to the companies and governments, but should be owned by the people.

I find it inspiring that a leader like Angela Merkel seems to prefer alternatives to confrontations. Maybe the world is eventually going to listen and become somehow better. I also find the interview sad as all endings have a degree of sadness around them. In their two very different situations, the chancellor and the journalist have been at the top of their organizations and now they discuss their understandings of the changes in the world.

On his final day in the job, Lionel Barber talks about the major trends that affected the world during his tenure at FT: the global financial crisis followed by the political responses, the rise of the East, especially of China and India, and the tech revolution especially the power of the smart phones. I find it inspiring and optimistic that a person like Barber thinks that human judgement should never be replaced by AI. And the whole range of subjects he discusses with Miranda Green are exciting and worth listening to, mainly the references to his interviews with Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump and other world leaders as well as the values of the FT. Inspiring and sometimes sad, clearly challenging – very much like the world we live in. What I found wise is the appeal to understanding and taking account of what is happening. Not to condone things, but to try to offer solutions.