The Economist held its 27th annual festival, this year called "The World in 2013," in early December in New York City. The event coincided with the release of The Economist's annual publication of the same title, which contains a collection of trends and predictions about the year ahead.
The festival featured a series of discussions, performances and debates with Economist editors and other guests.
First, New York University professor and author of “White Man’s Burden” William Easterly debated with economist Dambisa Moyo about comparing emerging economies like China and India to the U.S.
Then, former Obama administration budget director Peter Orszag spoke about the U.S. economy in 2013. He said concerns over the so-called "fiscal cliff" have been overblown, and that the focus should shift to the debt limit increase. The former CBO Director also added that Republicans will ultimately cave in on tax increases, and that both sides are relying on “gimmicks” by not providing details on spending cuts. Mr. Orszag is now Global Banking Vice Chairman for Citigroup.
A panel discussion on social movements, such as those organized by the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, and their potential for influencing societal change included remarks by composer and musician Paul Miller, also known as ‘DJ Spooky," and co-founder of the “Burning Man" festival Larry Harvey
Author and BuzzMachine blogger Jeff Jarvis talked about threats to free speech in a discussion on the future of social media. He was joined by musician and social media artist Amanda Palmer who gave her perspective.
Next, in a discussion on some of the changes to expect in the health care industry in 2013, analysts looked at how advances in the fields of genomics, robotics, aviation and other fields are helping to create a health care technology revolution.
Executive Chef and Blue Hill Restaurant co-owner Dan Barber spoke about the future of the world’s agricultural supply system. He said decreasing ecological resources, such as an abundance of water, cheap fossil fuel and a steady and predictable climate, will result in a non-industrialized food system, as well as change in the world’s dietary habits.
A discussion on the opportunities and challenges of data analysis in today’s society included the chief digital officer of New York City and the president of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. They talked about how data is being used to help save lives as well as the challenges of privacy concerns.
Then, former National Security Council counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke spoke about Chinese cyber espionage and the U.S. vulnerabilities to a possible Iranian cyber attack.
Finally, a panel discussion on the future of energy policy and U.S. energy independence included the presidents of the Shell Oil Company and the Environmental Defense Fund, as well as former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman. They discussed renewable sources, the use of hydraulic fracturing to drill for oil and gas, the impact of climate change and the potential for a carbon tax.