What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
With rendition switcher


Jagdish Bhagwati: If I had to choose one, let me choose it in the area in which I have written quite a bit and taught quite a bit. It’s about globalization. There is a weak underbelly as it were. And that has to do with capital flows. It’s in my book “In Defense of Globalization.” I have a separate chapter on capital flows.

Capital flows, we still really don’t know – in an interdependent system where capital can move very fast – what we can do if suddenly panic materializes. Right now – in fact as we talk – we’re on edge as a result of the subprime lending and so on. In international capital flows, there’s always this continuous anxiety – no matter what people say in public who are involved in it – as to whether one day something will break up the system. And there’s no way to feel completely secure about it.

That is something I wrote at the time of the East Asian financial crisis in foreign affairs. It was called “The Capital Myth,” and I was simply saying that with trade, of course there can be problems; but they’re minor problems. Like if I exchange my toothbrush for your toothpaste. And if we remember to brush our teeth, we will both look rather good, right? And the probability of our teeth being knocked out in the process of exchange is rather small. There’s nothing _________ life.

But with the analogy for capital flows, it’s like with fire. Fire can be used to turn raw meat into a wonderful steak. But it can also burn your house down. And that is the worry. And I think we really haven’t scorched that. I don’t know whether one ever can, and that remains today with very rapid flows of capital __________; with people continuously playing, and with people unscrupulously ________ advantage.

For instance George Soros was asked, why did you bet against the Malaysian currency. ______ was mad as hell, so mad that he made some anti-Semitic slurs which are totally uncalled for. I don’t even know if George Soros is a practicing Jew. But it was such a crazy thing to say. But he had a point about George Soros himself. Leave my currency alone.

So George Soros eventually said look, I believe there should be control. _________capital flows are a problem. But as long as they are possible, I’m going to make money out of it.

Now there are many people who don’t care. George cares; but you know if there is money to be made he will make it until the system changes.

And then there’s the rest of us. This I do worry about, and this is the most important problem because multinational investments, trade, even migration, we are beginning to learn how to handle that. And I think some of the evolutionary thinking there, we want to manage it between _________.

It’s moving in the right direction, in my view. And international patents and so on. And letting generic drugs develop, that has also moved along the way.

So the only place where I don’t think anybody can reassure me actually, because it’s not possible right now. All we can do is whistle in the dark and hope nothing will happen, which is exactly where we are on the emerging crisis, which I hope will disappear. But it’s only a hope. It’s not an expectation.


Recorded On: Aug 14, 2007


What is the world's greates...

Newsletter: Share: