- Managing Partner of FutureMap
- The leading next-generation voice in geopolitics and global markets
- One of Esquire’s “75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century”
- Senior Fellow, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore
- Managing Partner of FutureMap
- The leading next-generation voice in geopolitics and global markets
- One of Esquire’s “75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century”
- Senior Fellow, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore
Dr. Parag Khanna is a visionary strategic futurist and bestselling author. He is the founder and managing partner of FutureMap, a boutique advisory firm that marries rigorous data analysis, sophisticated scenarios, and cutting-edge mapping to generate foresight for confident decision-making. A world-renowned authority on globalization, Dr. Khanna was named one of Esquire’s “75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century” and featured on WIRED’s “Smart List”. His analyses are regularly featured in influential media sources such as CNN, Bloomberg, CNBC, BBC, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TIME, The Economist, Financial Times, Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Policy.
Khanna is the leading forecaster of how our complex global system is rapidly evolving, making him highly sought after by the world’s most powerful corporations. He delivers data-rich visualizations that distill geopolitical, economic, and technological megatrends into a comprehensive picture of our rapidly changing world. Khanna’s presentations are tailored and detailed, embodying his deep expertise and firsthand experiences in more than 150 countries. All of his engagements deliver strategically insightful and actionable value.
Khanna has provided his expertise and foresight to over thirty governments, including serving as an advisor to the U.S. National Intelligence Council and on the Singapore government’s Committee on the Future Economy. He currently serves on the advisory boards of the UAE’s Ministry of Economy, Graticule Asset Management Asia (GAMA), Geoquant, and Datarama, and previously on the Innovation Advisory Board of DBS Bank.
Khanna’s newest book is MOVE: The Forces That Are Uprooting Us and Will Shape Humanity’s Destiny(2021), a bold roadmap to harness the world’s talent pool and regenerate our societies and economies amidst today’s onslaught of disruptions. His book The Future is Asian: Commerce, Conflict, and Culture in the 21st Century (2019) earned high praise from Larry Summers, Jim Rogers, and many other luminaries. It was called “dazzling” by Kirkus Reviews and hailed as “authoritative… a standard reference,” by the Financial Times, which named the book to its Summer Books of 2019 list.
Khanna is also the author of a definitive trilogy of books on the future of world order beginning with the bestsellers The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order (2008) and How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance (2011), and concluding with Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization (2016). These books garnered accolades from many leading authorities, including Eric Schmidt, Chuck Hagel, Fareed Zakaria, Mark Mobius, Robert Kaplan, Kevin Kelly, Martin Sorrell, and Klaus Schwab. The New York Times Book Review hailed Khanna as “a foreign policy whiz kid.”
Khanna also authored two other books, Technocracy in America: Rise of the Info-State (2017) and Hybrid Reality: Thriving in the Emerging Human-Technology Civilization (2011) (co-authored with his wife Ayesha Khanna, CEO of ADDO AI). The former was strongly endorsed by notable intellectuals such as Tyler Cowen and Lawrence Lessig, and the latter was celebrated by Alvin Toffler, Peter Diamandis, Peter Schwartz, and others. His books have been translated into more than twenty languages and received feature coverage in leading publications in all major countries of the world.
Khanna was a featured speaker at TED in 2016 and TED Global in 2009, with his talks garnering more than three million views online.
Before founding FutureMap, Khanna was a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the National University of Singapore, as well as a senior fellow at New America and the Brookings Institution. In 2007, he deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as a senior geopolitical advisor to U.S. Special Operations Forces. He also worked at the World Economic Forum in Geneva and the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
Dr. Khanna holds a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics, a Bachelor of Science in International Affairs, and a Master of Arts in Security Studies from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He speaks German, Hindi, French, Spanish and basic Arabic. He has traveled to more than 150 countries and been honored as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.
CategoriesAuthors, Business: Execution & Strategy, Emerging Markets, Geopolitics, International Affairs & Politics, International Relations, TED Speakers
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Parag and his wife Ayesha take an optimistic view on the future in this cover feature for Tatler
magazine that appears in the September issue.
In the interview, they discuss Ayesha’s important work in “AI as a service” and Parag’s strategic advisory work with governments, and how travel and technology have shaped how they raise their kids.
The coronavirus is upending our jobs, canceling our pastimes and messing with our social lives. Some of these effects might linger for months, even years, becoming the new normal. But the pandemic isn’t simply likely to change how we live—it could also alter where we live.
Click here to read.
Parag Khanna, managing partner at FutureMap and author of “The Future is Asian,” discusses the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Asia and what we can expect to see as economies reopen. He speaks with Bloomberg’s David Westin on “Bloomberg: Balance of Power.” (Source: Bloomberg)
In chaos theory, the butterfly effect describes a small change that can have massive, unpredictable consequences. An insect flaps its wings and, weeks later, causes a tornado.
The coronavirus is more like an earthquake, with aftershocks that will permanently reshape the world.
If we are lucky, the world will pass “peak virus” within the next six months. But the economy, governments, and social institutions will take years to recover in the best-case scenario. Indeed, rather than even speak of “recovery,” which implies a return to how things were, it would be wise to project what new direction civilization will take. That too will be a bumpy ride. The next 3-5 years will remind us that COVID-19 was the lightning before the thunder.
Of course, it is difficult to draw straight lines between cause and effect. With the benefit of hindsight, we can trace how the Treaty of Versailles and the Great Depression enabled the rise of Hitler. But in the hyperconnected world of today, dense global networks enable butterfly effects to ripple and amplify far more rapidly.
Can we forward-engineer probable scenarios emerging from the consequences of today’s pandemic? Given how stretched our institutions are in coping with the current crisis, few tasks could be more urgent in helping us prepare for the future. It is easy to predict further doom after a devastating phenomenon such as the coronavirus. Reality will likely turn out differently—and it certainly can.
THE LONG EMERGENCY
The most obvious tail-risk scenario to consider is that the numerous existing strains of COVID-19 encircling the world continue to ravage societies and the search for a vaccine proves more elusive, extending beyond the currently forecast 12-18 months. Countries that have accepted the rhythms of shelter-in-place policies and deployed contact-tracing technologies may be able to isolate pockets of exposure through strict quarantines, but poor and densely populated countries will remain especially unprepared and vulnerable. The aggregate death toll crosses from under 100,000 at present to nearly one million or more. At the moment, all countries are self-isolating, but in this trajectory, some countries would be indefinitely ring-fenced from physical exchange with others. Domestically, they face a painful choice between reopening their economies and exposing their populations to further infection.
We should therefore be cautious about forecasts suggesting we face only a U- or V-shaped recession. Numerous factors militate against this sanguine view. Most importantly, supply chains and markets are more integrated than commonly appreciated, and near-shoring is more difficult than the wave of a pen. The current American debacle with surgical masks and ventilators is a case in point. Emerging markets and developing countries are critical both as suppliers and markets. Their demise weakens the world economy as a whole.
Furthermore, domestic unemployment is reaching Depression-era levels, and the current relief packages don’t yet amount to the stimulus that many Western publics may need for years to come. Precautionary savings and muted consumption will govern household spending decisions, and business investment will sag. A long-drawn-out W shape is therefore the most likely economic scenario for the years ahead.
At a human level, the current economic nosedive is so steep that GDP figures are the last thing on most people’s minds. For governments and corporates, however, spiraling debt is a matter of immense concern. Once revolving credit lines are tapped out, numerous large firms will collapse or be consolidated. Industries from commercial real estate to aviation will suffer enormous write-downs on office buildings and shopping malls, airlines and airports. While European social policy keeps households afloat far better than America’s meager welfare, America’s single market is far more efficient than the eurozone, where leaders won’t agree to a sufficiently large mutualized debt scheme. As large employers (and the states or provinces that depend on their tax revenue) collapse, governments may fall.
THE “SUEZ SCENARIO”
Outright state collapse is not an implausible scenario for petro-states from Ecuador to Iran. Venezuela’s recent years of hyperinflation and starvation will be compounded by trickling aid and oil prices hitting bottom. Much as the 1980s oil trough hastened the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the combination of oil prices cratering and the likelihood that the hajj will have to be canceled eviscerates Saudi Arabia’s two largest sources of revenue. The high virus infection rate in Iran has been compounded by the stranglehold of American sanctions. Petro-states and developing countries have flocked to the IMF to access its emergency lending facility and have also drawn down their USD reserves to buttress their financing and stave off capital flight. Gulf states may need to loosen their U.S. dollar pegs.
It would be too simplistic to suggest that China will fill the void. Given its own difficulties with zombie firms, high municipal debt, and shift into deficits, Beijing has held back from extending generous credit to its usual client states such as Iran and Pakistan. Yet a “Suez scenario” remains plausible, harkening to the 1956 episode in which the Eisenhower administration threatened to withhold support for the British pound unless Britain withdrew its forces from the Suez Canal. With U.S.-China trade trending sharply downward and China angling to re-price oil into renminbi, a fragmentation of the global monetary order is a possibility for which all countries should prepare.
ANOTHER MIGRANT CRISIS
Global economic fragmentation and diminished international lifelines all but ensure that people will continue to flee failing states. Turkey has made clear it wants neither to house four million Syrian refugees in perpetuity nor to tolerate a mass virus outbreak. Dwindling Gulf support for Egypt and Sudan could spark an exodus from those states as well. Thus we should expect the migrant crisis from Central America into Mexico and the Middle East into Europe to surge again.
More broadly, if and when the pandemic restrictions on cross-border mobility lift, millions of other people will seek to escape “red zone” geographies with inadequate healthcare in favor of “green zones” with better medical care. At present, almost all the countries that offer universal medical care are in Europe. Those with skills and “immunity passports” may well gain entry as some wealthier countries seek migrants to contribute to a consumption rebound and fill labor shortages. Within countries, the flight from expensive tier-one cities to more affordable provincial areas will likely accelerate. In America, they may benefit cities such as Denver and Charlotte; in Europe, Lisbon and Athens.
Before many countries contemplate jump-starting migration, however, they will likely first undertake a serious review of their food and medical supplies and perhaps engage in the kind of stockpiling or “food nationalism” that Russia has done in limiting grain exports and Vietnam with restricting rice exports. A decade ago, the agricultural price volatility exacerbated by Russia’s banning of wheat exports helped push Egypt and Tunisia over the edge. We should not be surprised for this recent history to repeat itself in numerous countries.
It would be wildly optimistic to predict, even to hope, that multilateral institutions will be upgraded by great powers to better cope with future shocks. China’s recent manipulation of the WHO and admission to the Human Rights Council, as well as the complete sidelining of the UN Security Council, suggest the United Nations will continue its terminal decay. While the IMF has temporarily restored its relevance, macroprudential supervision will fall by the wayside. The World Bank is woefully slow and underresourced.
The most optimistic scenario, then, is a revival of regional organizations. The EU has a chance to bring about the fiscal union it needs more than ever, but it remains unclear whether it will take it. Asian countries have just passed a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and will need to deepen their internal trade to cope with the global demand shock. North America’s three states already trade more with each other than with China or Europe. Regionalization will be the new globalization.
TECHNOLOGY VERSUS THE COST CURVE
What investments can we make or deepen today to blunt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and steer the future in a more stable and sustainable direction?
Greater investment in biotechnology and healthcare are obvious places to start—but not in their current form. Healthcare is being defined as a social good worldwide (as is already the case in Europe), but its cost is coming under scrutiny. Cost-effective universal provision can only be achieved through a model that emphasizes telemedicine and localized clinics and treatment centers. The push being made in this direction even in poor countries such as India and Indonesia may be instructive for much of the world. Fragmentation of life sciences regulation must also be overcome if we are to sustain the “science diplomacy” that has sprouted amid this pandemic and reverse the decades-long trend where the cost to produce a new drug has doubled with every passing decade.
Along similar lines, private education will receive substantially more investment given its strong performance during the crisis, but with a focus on digital delivery. This in turn should demonstrate how broad innovation in public education can be achieved cost-effectively as well. Digitization of financial services, which had already mushroomed prior to the pandemic, should be pushed to every living person in its wake. Neither widening inequality nor anemic consumption can be overcome without it.
The coronavirus has proven to be a greater test for leadership than 9/11 and the financial crisis combined, a sobering shock that has shattered complacent assumptions that progress always moves “up and to the right.” Evolution, both biological and civilizational, is a much more haphazard and indeterminate process. Moving forward, public- and private-sector leaders will have to accept a far greater agency in defining long-term priorities such as combating climate change and communicating the short-term sacrifices necessary to achieve them. Incentives will have to be realigned, with governments subsidizing investments in sustainability—and markets rewarding those firms that achieve revenue with resilience. If we are at “war” against the pandemic or future civilizational threats, we should act like it.
The further we look into the future, the more we can imagine how global society may well be reinvented by the coronavirus pandemic. The 14th-century Black Death caused millions of deaths across Eurasia, splintered the largest territorial empire ever known (the Mongols), forced significant wage growth in Europe, and promoted wider maritime exploration that led to European colonialism. These phenomena trace strongly to the plague even if they played out over centuries. The consequences of today’s pandemic will emerge far more quickly, and with the benefit of foresight, we can try to mitigate them, capitalize on them, and build a more resilient global system in the process.
Dr. Parag Khanna joined Australia’s former trade minister Steven Ciobo and Portland Communications director for Asia Jonathan McClory to assess the global economic response to the Covid-19 pandemic and which economic sectors could experience a lift as social behaviors shift.
Click here to listen.
- THE POST-PANDEMIC WORLD: GLOBAL TRENDS AND SCENARIOS
Like the 14th century Black Death, the coronavirus has caused profound worldwide loss of life, significant restructuring of trade patterns, major reordering of geopolitical relations, and substantial disruption to our daily lives. What radical changes lie ahead in the post-pandemic world?
The global economy will become much more regional than global. There will be a revival in manufacturing near-shoring to ensure a solid national industrial foundation in areas ranging from electronics to pharmaceuticals, all powered by accelerated robotic automation and 3D printing. A true North American Union including Canada and Mexico may emerge to reinforce a full continental resource base free of dependence on turbulent regions. Europe will gradually add a fiscal and banking union to its existing common currency, and subsidize strategic industries to boost its competitiveness against the US and Asia. Asians have entered into a massive Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that covers more than one-third or global GDP, but Asians too will seek to diminish their dependency on China, pushing back on its Belt and Road Initiative much as the plague weakened the Mongols’ grip on the medieval Silk Roads. Supply chains will rapidly diversify towards a “make where you sell” model to avoid bottlenecks.
How will geopolitical and market competition play out in this new global scenario? Will decoupling between regions be followed by new areas of mutually beneficial cooperation? Drawing on his deep expertise in geopolitics and geoeconomics captured in his books The Second World and Connectography, his vast knowledge of Asia’s rising weight in the global system embodied in The Future is Asian, and his active consultations with the most important governments and companies, Parag Khanna maps out the future of global capital flows, infrastructure investments, supply chains, industrial policies, accelerating growth sectors, and other major drivers of the next world order.
- THE FUTURE IS ASIAN: BILLIONS OF PEOPLE, TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS
Even more than before the pandemic, Asia remains the world’s economic growth engine, representing more than half the world’s population and fifty percent of global GDP. China’s decades-long growth boom continues with its post-pandemic recovery and new five-year plan, as well as surging portfolio capital flows into its bond and equity markets. But the next Asian growth wave is also recovering momentum as South and Southeast Asian powerhouses from India to Indonesia attract record capital inflows and become the new epicenter of global supply chains, especially under the framework of the new Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Global asset managers are also taking big stakes in the region given its lower valuations and privatization initiatives, while multinationals are expanding their presence to access the burgeoning youth consumer base. Despite economic and political friction, Western companies need far more diversified strategies for Asia’s many unique markets from China and Japan to ASEAN and India.
The decade ahead will also witness an acceleration of Asia going global. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and Belt and Road Initiative all embody how dozens of countries across Eurasia and the Indian Ocean are knitting themselves closer together through trade, investment, and infrastructure networks that provide vital capital and technology for many developing countries to modernize and serve as the next destinations for Western overseas expansion as well.
Having provided extensive guidance to Asia’s governments and companies in the finance, energy, infrastructure, real estate, and technology sectors, Parag Khanna gives audiences an insider’s view of the new geographies and platforms of growth in the world’s new center of gravity.
- MOVE: THE NEW WAR FOR TALENT
The coronavirus imposed the strictest lockdown in history, yet all the forces that compel people to uproot themselves are accelerating: labor shortages, political upheaval, economic crises, technological disruption, and climate change. Humanity is voting with their feet: Prepare for a world with billions of people on the move. This applies especially to youth: More than four billion millennials and Gen-Z are willing to go anywhere in search of stability and opportunity. As mankind reaches a demographic plateau, those societies overcoming their xenophobic tendencies and recruiting the next generation of migrants, citizens, entrepreneurs, service workers, and taxpayers will be the winners of tomorrow. Where and how should you invest to get an edge in the new war for talent?
Based on his visionary new book MOVE, Parag Khanna explains which geographies are best prepared for today’s turbulence and what factors are most crucial to attract a new generation of remote workers and mobile professionals. Dr. Khanna also includes the latest insights from FutureMap’s pioneering Climate Oases practice that applies big data models to forecast the cities best adapting to today’s complexity to become the innovation hubs of the future.
“Khanna’s scholarship and foresight are world-class. (Connectography is) A must-read for the next President.” -Chuck Hagel, Former U.S. Secretary of Defense
“I’m pleased that Parag was able to speak at our Sustainable Financing Forum. We have received exceptional customer feedback on the Forum. Customers and other attendees made special mention of the quality of the speakers, the depth and breadth of insights shared and relevance of the subject matter. Please extend my thanks to Parag for his valuable contribution and for sharing his insights with such clarity.”-International Financial Institution
“Parag is a brilliant, energetic, and mesmerizing speaker who carried the opening day at our recent symposium, the largest annual gathering of geospatial intelligence practitioners in the world. Our almost 4,000 attendees bring wide-ranging areas of expertise regarding myriad emerging technologies, including remote sensing, data analytics, and intelligence for national security. They were universally blown away by Parag’s talk, and the concepts he raised were grist for superb conversations and debates during the entirety of our event.”
– Keith Masback, CEO, US Geospatial Intelligence Foundation
“Business speakers have an impossible challenge to advise, inspire and keep their audience at the edge of their seats. In looking for the right speaker, we have the added pressure to ensure our clients walk away with value for the time they set aside to listen. Parag’s presentation was thought provoking and stimulating for our sophisticated clients.”
– Kevin A. Aussef, Executive Managing Director, CBRE Capital Markets
“Parag brought a sophisticated and optimistic vision for the future of the world economy to our colleagues.”
– Goldman Sachs Asset Management
“Parag’s insight and analysis on the crucial role multi-generational families play in the world economy, and the range of investible assets that present great opportunities for the years ahead, provided Campden Wealth’s community with a stimulating and essential contribution to our North American Family Investment Conference.”
– Campden Wealth Management
“Parag was a highly rated keynote speaker at our recent European conference. During a particularly challenging and volatile time in the markets, his speech focusing on the mega-trends shaping the macro environment offered a thought provoking and cutting edge perspective for our clients.”
– Kashif Zafar, Co-Head of Global Distribution, Barclays
“Our partners and clients are seeking to understand and be confident in the face of Asia’s complex dynamics. Parag delivered the keynote address at our recent ASEAN Connections client forum in Singapore. He demonstrated a unique ability to simplify the complex and interlink geopolitical, economic and business concepts into engaging and informative discussion points, complete with the latest data and striking visuals.”
– Laura Ashton, Asia Pacific Regional Director, Baker & McKenzie
“Parag’s keynote was exactly the macro view we needed to stimulate conversations on the intersection of financial services and emerging digital technologies. Very stimulating for our executives and clients.”
“UPS’s clients are looking at logistics and digital solutions on a global scale. Dr. Khanna’s concept of the ‘supply chain world’ and his detailed analysis of the current trends in globalization and obstacles to smoother integration was exactly what we were looking for.”
– Craig Arnold, UPS
“Volatility has returned to global markets, but Dr. Khanna made a very persuasive case for the huge continued long-term opportunities in emerging markets, especially Asia. His presentation on the growing attractiveness of infrastructure as an asset class was first-rate.”
– Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan
“I’m pleased that Parag was able to speak at our Sustainable Financing Forum. We have received exceptional customer feedback. Customers and other attendees made special mention of the quality of the speakers, the depth and breadth of insights shared and relevance of the subject matter. Please extend my thanks to Parag for his valuable contribution and for sharing his insights with such clarity.”
“Clyde & Co. is rapidly expanding worldwide in vital industries such as insurance, transport and infrastructure. Parag provided a sharp and rapid-fire perspective on how these crucial sectors are evolving in a volatile world and mapped out pathways that benefited all our partners. Our collective view was: ‘Wow!'”
– Clyde & Co.
“Dr. Khanna was a ‘home run’ at this year’s ECC Conference. His presentation on his original work in Connectography was a perfect fit for our conference theme of innovation. Parag was an excellent speaker with a unique presentation on taking a different perspective on world geography. His research and theories gave our conference some great insights on where we might best focus our efforts to insure sustainable future growth in global commerce.”
– Stephen Buras, Albemarle Corporation
“Dr. Khanna’s opening keynote address at our recent foreign direct investment forum was engaging, insightful and stimulating for our diverse audience of senior decision makers from government and international corporations. His thought provoking perspectives set the scene perfectly for the day ahead.”
– Financial Times Live
“Investor AB’s 100th anniversary celebration was a major milestone in one of Europe’s leading family firms. Dr. Khanna’s opening keynote speech was inspirational to our senior management and the heads of our many portfolio companies. His vision of the future is precisely what we believe all investors should focus on.”
– Investor AB (Sweden)
“Parag offered our members a knowledgeable and fascinating perspective on the ways in which an increasingly urban world will renegotiate the historical boundaries of our geopolitical landscape. The various visuals and extensive research he provided made for a fact-packed program that fully engaged everyone in the room.”
– Economic Club of Chicago