Steve Forbes Shares Incisive View of US Economy

HONG KONG, March 22, 2012 — Asia Society Hong Kong was joined by Steve Forbes, Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Magazine and CEO of Forbes, Inc., for a lunchtime discussion — at times partisan, at times more objective — of the U.S. economy, the upcoming U.S. presidential elections, and the effect that these are likely to have on the global economy.

In his welcoming remarks, Asia Society Co-Chair Ronnie Chan noted that Forbes is uniquely well-positioned to discuss these issues, as both an economic expert and a two-time former presidential candidate. "The only problem I have with Steve," joked Chan ruefully, "He is a really strong Republican, which may skew his view of the election and may raise questions you want answered!"

Indeed, Forbes opened with a discussion of the current Republican frontrunners, who are very much at the forefront of the American media today. "What's unusual in this election," Forbes noted, "is that Republicans are unhappy with all of the candidates, and perhaps that's why there are still five frontrunners. Unhappily, the race is now coming to a close." Unless there's a drastic change, he predicted, Mitt Romney will win the nomination.

It's often difficult for a layperson to listen to political commentary without the constant aid of Wikipedia or a personal fact-checker. The political picture in the United States is so enormous that to examine small corners can often feel quite like standing too close to a Monet painting — you lose sight of the context. Forbes went on to level some criticisms at both the Republican candidates and at President Obama, but it was only when he pulled back to survey the United States economy in full that his analysis became truly insightful and engaging.

"Our Central Bank has been on a bender," assessed Forbes, "And this has had bad repercussions for the entire global economy." He stressed the commonsensical importance of an international currency created by the marketplace to facilitate global trade. "Right now, for better or for worse, that's the U.S. dollar," he said. "If the U.S. dollar gets weak and destabilized, turbulent, there are repercussions around the world."

In his suggestions for global economic health, Forbes tapped a number of platforms that have been vocally advocated by the current Republican candidates. One was the reestablishment of a gold-backed currency, often considered the controversial domain of candidate Ron Paul. Forbes also advocated lower taxes and minimal financial regulations. In the end, his forecast was positive: "I believe that by 2013, the global economy will be back on track."

Some of his listeners in Hong Kong may have indeed disagreed with the conservative slant of Forbes speech, but he managed to reach across the aisle with an incisive and far-reaching look into the logic and mechanisms governing the U.S. and global economies.

Reported by Maddie Gressel

Video: Watch the complete program (47 min., 45 sec.)