American Business Today

Robert D. Hormats is the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs. He was formerly vice chairman of Goldman Sachs (International) and managing director of Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Hormats has also served as ambassador and deputy US Trade Representative, and senior deputy assistant secretary for Economic and Business Affairs at the US Department of State. He was a senior staff member on the National Security Council and senior economic advisor to National Security Advisors Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, and Zbigniew Brzezinski. Hormats has received the French Legion of Honor and Arthur Fleming Award.

Mr. Hormats has been a visiting lecturer at Princeton University and is a member of the Board of Visitors of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the Dean's Council of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Mr. Hormats' publications include Abraham Lincoln and the Global Economy; American Albatross: The Foreign Debt Dilemma; and Reforming the International Monetary System. Mr. Hormats earned a B.A. from Tufts University with a concentration in economics and political science; an M.A. and a Ph.D. in international economics from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

  • Transcript


Topic: American Business Today

Robert Hormats: American business has become very international. American companies have become an integral part of the global economy in terms of exports; in terms of producing abroad; in terms of financing themselves abroad; in terms of importing from the rest of the world. American companies are really at the forefront of global economic change in many respects.

I think American companies also are very innovative. American companies are still very entrepreneurial. Americans know perhaps better than many cultures how to create a multicultural, multiethnic, multinational workforce, in part because we are as a country so ethnically diverse that if you understand the importance of an ethnically diverse workforce at home, it’s just one more step to integrating the workforce of people from different countries, and different cultures, and different religions, and different racial groups globally. And American companies do that very well.

I think American business is very innovative, global, and still highly entrepreneurial; but I also think it’s true that companies elsewhere in the world are also very hungry. They’re developing global economic and financial skills. They’re becoming more entrepreneurial.

And as a result this enormous lead that American companies and the American economy had 20 years ago or 30 years ago has been narrowed in many, many respects. And in some areas foreign companies have leaped ahead of American companies in many aspects of technology.

In general I think the U.S. still has a lead; but that lead is far narrower than it was a decade ago. And if we don’t continue to work very hard, be more innovative, educate our people for knowledge-driven jobs of the 21st century, it’s going to be hard for the United States to retain that competitive edge that we pride ourselves in.


Recorded On: July 25, 2007