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Global Economy Expert

Marvin Zonis is a leading expert on the global economy and political risk. Professor emeritus at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Zonis’ insights into the intersection of politics, economics and emerging technologies make him a valuable and always timely keynote speaker for a vast range of businesses and organizations. 

He is a leading authority on the Middle East, and has spent the last 50 years studying the volatile mix of Islam, terrorism, and the Middle East. He is the former director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago and former president of the American Institute of Iranian Studies. He has lived in Iran, hitchhiked through Afghanistan in the 1960s, studied Islam in Iraq beginning in 1964, and has traveled extensively throughout other parts of the region, as well. 


At Chicago Booth, Zonis has taught courses on International Political Economy, Leadership, and E-Commerce. He was the first professor at the Business School to teach a course on the effects of digital technologies on global business. He also consults to corporations and professional asset management firms throughout the world, helping them to identify, assess, and manage their political risks in the changing global environment.

Zonis is a member of the Board of Directors of CNA Financial, the global insurance and financial services firm and a Fellow of OmniPoint U.S.LLC (formerly Diamond Consultants), a global technology consulting firm. He is a member of the U.S. Comptroller General′s Board of Advisers at the GAO and serves on the Board of the Institute for Psychoanalysis, Chicago. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Fondation Etats Unis, Paris. 

Thoughtful Analysis on Economics and Politics

What unites these activities is Zonis’ unique awareness of the intersections of politics, economics, emergent technologies, emotions and leadership. He argues that the global economic slowdown has generated pervasive feelings of humiliation, anxiety, and mistrust. The sense of humiliation has generated rage directed at the elite of country after country. The result has been widespread political instability. Governments, especially in the Middle East, have been toppled while the economic decline of those countries has accelerated. 

In the face of these global economic, political and financial challenges, business leadership, and a true understanding of what defines leadership, is more essential than ever. 

Best Selling Author

Zonis has written extensively on globalization, digital technologies, emerging markets, Middle Eastern politics, the oil industry, Russia, and U.S. foreign policy. His writings have been published, among other places, in The Financial Times, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, Chief Executive Magazine, La Vanguardia, The Boston Globe, and the Japanese journal Nikkei Weekly. His latest book is Risk Rules: How Local Politics Threaten the Global Economy.  His other books include The Kimchi Matters: Global Business and Local Politics in a Crisis Driven World; The Eastern European Opportunity; Majestic Failure: The Fall of the Shah; Khomeini and the Islamic Republic of Iran; and The Political Elite of Iran.


Zonis has appeared on numerous network television news programs, including Nightline and CNN′s Larry King Live, as well as a commentator on National Public Radio. He was the International Editor of WBBM-TV, Chicago and was the Middle East Consultant to ABC/Capital Cities television. 


He was educated at Yale University, the Harvard Business School, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received a Ph.D. in Political Science, and the Institute for Psychoanalysis, Chicago, where he received psychoanalytic training.

Getting Globalization Right: Rules for Successful Global Investing

Despite the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and ongoing new terrorist threats, globalization is alive and well and slowly rebounding to pre-crisis levels. Businesses that seek success through globalization need to make better "country bets." To determine where they should commit their businesses. They need to assess the prospects of countries for political stability and economic growth. Making better country bets offers the best prospects for prospering in the global economy. A set of 15 principles for "getting globalization right," including estimates of corruption, leadership succession, external threats and others is offered to help businesses make effective assessments of country prospects.

Geo-Politics and Global Business in the New Decade

The twenty-first century will witness the most rapid changes in the history of the world. Technology is on an exponential growth curve. Powerful demographic trends have resulted in fewer births everywhere but especially in the rich countries and in dramatically ageing populations. Fears of climate change are driving public policy and private investments. A number of countries are achieving vast riches and enhanced national power. These and other forces will be identified and their effects on the global economy will be described. Companies that wish to succeed in this century must anticipate and prepare for these changes.

The Triumph Of The Markets: Global Politics And Economics

The gap between the rich countries and the poor countries is not widening. In fact, for the majority of the world′s population, that gap is diminishing. Some 60 developing countries have adopted many of the features of market economies and are growing their economies faster than the 30 rich countries. These rapid developers include India and China with 40 percent of the world′s population between them. As a result, the gap between a majority of the poor, living in these 60 countries, and the people in rich countries has been diminishing for a decade. But there are another 60 countries in the world that have not adopted the features of market economies and have not joined the trend towards globalization. Their populations are not only not getting richer, but are frequently actually getting poorer. The income gap between those failing states and the rest of the world is widening rapidly. It is from those countries that future global instability and threats to the US will emerge unless the rich countries take concerted and vigorous action to generate economic development in those countries. The implications for business of these changes will be identified.

Crisis Of Globalization And Succeeding In An Unstable World

Whether in business or government, leaders are in the midst of hard times. For many leaders, these hard times provide an opportunity to strengthen their leadership positions. Leaders who seize the opportunities within a crisis can re-fashion their strategic vision for the future of their organizations, remobilize resources, and enlist the powerful emotions generated in a crisis to strengthen their ties with their followers.

Forget The ′Brics′ - It′s The ′Bicis": Brazil, India, China And Indonesia

Despite President Medvedev′s recent efforts to transform Russia, it will remain a laggard in the global economy. The vast mineral income flowing to its government makes market oriented reform difficult. The growth winners will be the BICIs - the rising powers of Brazil, India, China, and Indonesia. Their prospects for continued growth will be assessed. Indonesia is an often-overlooked winner in the global economy. It is the world′s most populous country. It is a political democracy working hard to diminish corruption. It has had years of >6 percent growth. These four countries will become major economic and political powers.

Excellent Leaders: Generating Emotions

Competitive success in an increasingly globalized economy depends more than ever on worker dedication, commitment, and passion. Leadership within the organization is the principal way to generate those emotions. In this speech, business leaders will learn to master the techniques of generating those emotions in the work place.

All Marvin Zonis Books

The Kimchi Matters: Global Business and Local Politics in a Crisis-Driven World
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The Kimchi Matters: Global Business and Local Politics in a Crisis-Driven World
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