Ian Bremmer

Ian Bremmer

Bremmer in 2014
Born (1969-11-12) November 12, 1969
United States
Occupation Political scientist, author, entrepreneur, lecturer
Education BA, Tulane University
MA, PhD, Stanford University

Ian Bremmer (born November 12, 1969) is an American political scientist specializing in U.S. foreign policy, states in transition, and global political risk. He is the president and founder of Eurasia Group, a political risk research and consulting firm with offices in New York City, Washington, London, Tokyo, São Paulo, and San Francisco. As of December 2014, he is foreign affairs columnist and editor-at-large at Time.[1] In 2013, he was named Global Research Professor at New York University.[2] Eurasia Group provides analysis and expertise about how political developments and national security dynamics move markets and shape investment environments across the globe.

Life and career

Bremmer is of Armenian and German descent. He grew up in Boston housing projects.[3] Bremmer gained a BA in International Relations, magna cum laude, at Tulane University in 1989 and an MA in Political Science at Stanford University in 1991. He became a PhD in Political Science also at Stanford University in 1994.[4]

He then served on the faculty of the Hoover Institution where, at 25, he became the Institution's youngest ever National Fellow. He has held research and faculty positions at New York University (where he presently teaches), Columbia University, the EastWest Institute, the World Policy Institute, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the Asia Society Policy Institute, where he has served as First Harold J. Newman Distinguished Fellow in Geopolitics since 2015.

Bremmer is most widely known for advances in political risk; referred to as the "guru" in the field by The Economist[5] and The Wall Street Journal[6] and, more directly, bringing political science as a discipline to the financial markets.[7] In 2001, Bremmer created Wall Street's first global political risk index, now the GPRI (Global Political Risk Index). Bremmer's definition of an emerging market as "a country where politics matters at least as much as economics to the market"[8] is a standard reference in the political risk field.

Bremmer has published nine books, including the national bestsellers Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World (Portfolio, May 2012), which details risks and opportunities in a world without global leadership, and The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations (Portfolio, May 2010), which describes the global phenomenon of state capitalism and its implications for economics and politics. He also wrote The J Curve: A New Way to Understand Why Nations Rise and Fall (Simon & Schuster, 2006), selected by The Economist as one of the best books of 2006.[9] He recently came out with Superpower: Three Choices for America's Role in the World (Portfolio, May 2015), which provides an analysis of American foreign policy since the end of the Cold War, and calls for a rethink of America’s role in the world.

Bremmer is a frequent writer and commentator in the media. He is the foreign affairs columnist and editor-at-large for Time, a contributor for the Financial Times A-List,[10] and has also published articles in the Washington Post, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Foreign Affairs and many other publications. He appears regularly on CNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, Bloomberg Television, National Public Radio, the BBC, and other networks.

Among his professional appointments, Bremmer serves on the President's Council of the Near East Foundation, the Leadership Council for the Concordia Summit, and the Board of Trustees of Intelligence Squared. In 2007, he was named as a 'Young Global Leader' of the World Economic Forum, and in 2010 founded and was appointed Chair of the Forum's Global Agenda Council for Geopolitical Risk. In December 2015, Bremmer was knighted by the government of Italy.

Key concepts

Bremmer's research fields include: international political economy, geoeconomics and geopolitics, states in transition and global emerging markets, and US foreign policy.

The J-Curve

Bremmer's J curve[11] outlines the link between a country's openness and its stability. While many countries are stable because they are open (the United States, France, Japan), others are stable because they are closed (North Korea, Cuba, Iraq under Saddam Hussein). States can travel both forward (right) and backwards (left) along this J curve, so stability and openness are never secure. The J is steeper on the left hand side, as it is easier for a leader in a failed state to create stability by closing the country than to build a civil society and establish accountable institutions; the curve is higher on the far right than left because states that prevail in opening their societies (Eastern Europe, for example) ultimately become more stable than authoritarian regimes.

State capitalism

Ian Bremmer describes state capitalism as a system in which the state dominates markets primarily for political gain. In his book, The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations (New York: Portfolio, 2010), Bremmer describes China as the primary driver for the rise of state capitalism as a challenge to the free market economies of the developed world, particularly in the aftermath of the financial crisis.[12]


Main article: G-Zero world

The term G-Zero world refers to a breakdown in global leadership brought about by a decline of Western influence and the inability of other nations to fill the void.[13][14] It is a reference to a perceived shift away from the pre-eminence of the Group of Seven industrialized countries and the expanded Group of Twenty, which includes major emerging powers like China, India, Brazil, Turkey, and others. In his book, Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World (New York: Portfolio, 2012), Bremmer explains that, in the G-Zero, no country or group of countries has the political and economic leverage to drive an international agenda or provide global public goods.[15][16]

Weaponization of finance

The term weaponization of finance refers to the foreign policy strategy of using incentives (access to capital markets) and penalties (varied types of sanctions) as tools of coercive diplomacy. In his Eurasia Group Top Risks 2015 report,[17] Bremmer coins the weaponization of finance to describe the ways in which the United States is using its influence to affect global outcomes. Rather than rely on traditional elements of America’s security advantage – including US-led alliances such as NATO and multi-lateral institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund – Bremmer argues that the US is now ‘weaponizing finance’ by limiting access to the American marketplace and to US banks as an instrument of its foreign and security policy.

Pivot state

Bremmer uses 'pivot state' to describe a nation that is able to build profitable relationships with multiple other major powers without becoming overly reliant on any one of them.[18] This ability to hedge allows a pivot state to avoid capture—in terms of security or economy—at the hands of a single country. In his book, Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World (New York: Portfolio, 2012),[19] Bremmer explains how, in a volatile G-Zero world, the ability to pivot will take on increased importance. At the opposite end of the spectrum are shadow states that are frozen within the influence of a single power. The United States' neighbors illustrate the terms very well. With significant trade ties with both the United States and Asia and formal security ties with NATO, Canada is a good example of a pivot state that is hedged against a slowdown in or conflict with any single major power. Mexico, on the other hand, is a shadow state due to its overwhelming reliance on the US economy.

Selected bibliography

Current appointments


  1. http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowlny/ian-bremmer-joins-time_b236550
  2. https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2013/12/02/ian-bremmer-president-of-eurasia-group-named-nyu-global-research-professor.html
  3. Thompson, Damian (September 30, 2006). "Here's how the world works". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2008-08-01.
  4. "Ian Bremmer | World Policy Institute". www.worldpolicy.org. Retrieved 2016-01-30.
  5. "Beyond Economics". The Economist. February 10, 2011.
  6. Warnock, Eleanor. , The Wall Street Journal, April 9, 2015.
  7. Quinn, James (July 10, 2010). "The West Should Fear the Growth of State Capitalism". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
  8. Managing Risk in an Unstable World
  9. "Fighting to be tops". The Economist. December 7, 2006.
  10. "The A-List". The Financial Times. June 2011.
  11. Bremmer, Ian. 2006. The J Curve: A New Way to Understand Why Nations Rise and Fall. Simon and Schuster.
  12. Eurasia Group Top 10 Risks of 2011
  13. Gregory Scoblete. Will Free Markets Give Way to State Capitalism?, RealClearPolitics, May 28, 2010.
  14. Ian Bremmer and David Gordon.G-Zero, Foreign Policy, January 7, 2011.
  15. Ian Bremmer and Nouriel Roubini. A G-Zero World, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2011.
  16. Bremmer, Ian and Kupchan Cliff. , January 2015.
  17. Bremmer, Ian. , Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2012.
  18. Bremmer, Ian. Every Nation for Itself, New York: Portfolio, 2012.
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