A Conversation with Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Other Economic Leaders

Some of the greatest practitioners and students of capitalism talk about how it can serve the world’s poor as effectively as it serves the world’s rich.

Contact: Andi Joseph
Program Administrator

December 4, 2008

Washington, D.C.—Michael Kinsley, editor of Creative Capitalism: A Conversation with Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Other Economic Leaders, spoke about his new publication at the WDCEP on Thursday, December 4th. The event was the kick off program for a new author speaker series set for 2009. To view pictures of this program, please click here and select “A Conversation With Michael Kinsley”. If you are interested in sponsoring a future author program, please call Andi Joseph at 202.661.8678. Special thanks to HooksBookEvents for their partnership in this program.

Creative Capitalism: A Conversation with Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Other Economic Leaders (Simon & Schuster; $26.00; December 2, 2008) is a provocative and absorbing response from over 40 of the most influential thinkers in the world of business, including three Nobel laureates and two former U.S. cabinet secretaries. Edited by Michael Kinsley with Conor Clarke, Creative Capitalism grew out of a blog set up purposely to produce a book that would take up Gates’s challenge.

At the 2008 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Bill Gates delivered a path-breaking speech in which he challenged fellow entrepreneurs, non-profit pioneers, economists, and other scholars to pursue the idea of “creative capitalism” to address the growing gap between the rich and the poor in the global economy.

In his speech in January, Gates said the world’s problems had become too big for government and philanthropy—even at the scale of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—and that the free-market capitalist system will need to contribute to solving them. The genius of capitalism, as Gates noted (and Adam Smith before him), is its ability to make self-interest serve the wider interest. His challenge was: Can we make it work to help the world’s poor as well as it works to help the world’s rich?

But this notion of creative capitalism raises more questions than it answers—which was Gates’ intention—starting with, “what is it?” and “is it a good thing?” This book does not try to answer all of the questions, but a range of voices weighs in on new way to look at the capitalist system.

The book starts with Gates’s speech, proceeds to a conversation between Gates and Warren Buffett, who doesn’t hesitate to express some amiable skepticism, then continues with discussions, arguments, challenges, and analyses over email. Some of the 43 participants include:

  • Lawrence Summers, Former Treasury Secretary and president of Harvard
  • Richard Posner, noted founder of the school of “law and economics” and now one of the most influential Federal Appeals Court judges.
  • Three Nobel Prize winners: Edmund Phelps, Professor of Political Economy at Columbia, Gary Becker of the University of Chicago, and Vernon Smith of Chapman University.
  • Martin Wolf, associate editor and chief economics commentator at the Financial Times

Since the fall of Communism two decades ago, capitalism has been unchallenged as the world’s reigning ideology. Now, as capitalism faces its biggest crisis since the Great Depression, it is a good moment for a clear-eyed reconsideration of capitalism’s strengths and weaknesses. This fascinating book, spurred by the most legendary businessman of our age, will raise questions, fuel debate, and maybe even inspire action. “We are living in a phenomenal age. If we can spend the early decades of the twenty-first century finding approaches that meet the needs of the poor in ways that generate profits and recognition for business,” says Gates, “we will have found a sustainable way to reduce poverty in the world. This task is open-ended. It can never be finished. But a passionate effort to answer this challenge will help change the world.”

About the Editors
Michael Kinsley is a columnist for Time magazine. For many years he was the editor of The New Republic. He was host of CNN’s Crossfire and founded Slate, the nation’s first online magazine. He also served as the editorial page editor for The Los Angeles Times, and American Survey editor of The Economist. He has written for many publications including The New Yorker and Conde Nast Traveler.

Conor Clarke is a fellow at Atlantic Monthly.

About the Book
Title: Creative Capitalism
Subtitle: A Conversation with Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Other Economic Leaders
Author: Michael Kinsley
Simon & Schuster
Publication date: December 2, 2008
ISBN-10: 1-4165-9941-X
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-9941-8
Price: $26.00

For more information, visit www.creativecapitalismblog.com and www.simonsays.com

For author photo, jacket art, and excerpt: resources.simonsays.com.



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