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Keynote: Economic analyst Vaclav Smil talks globalization

Author sits down with PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster to answer questions about global trade, climate change and more

This keynote recap is from FreightWaves’ Supply Chain Meets FinTech event on Wednesday.

KEYNOTE TOPIC: How the world works — reshaping global trade and a framework for innovating change.

DETAILS: Vaclav Smil sits down with PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster to discuss the four pillars of modern civilization — steel, ammonia, concrete and plastic — and how they are fundamentally tied to our existence. He discusses the science behind how we got here and where we are going and offers insights to business leaders and entrepreneurs about globalization and supply chain frictions.

SPEAKER: Smil is an economic analyst.

BIO: Smil, a Czech-Canadian scientist and policy analyst, is distinguished professor emeritus in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, and author of “How the World Really Works.”


“How can you have more extended, deeper, more fundamental globalization when Russia and China now have this adversarial — quote, unquote — bad relationship with America and the European Union? These are important factors working against globalization.”

“Let’s not forget what has made America’s economy great. There was this tremendous diversity. There was a time when America made absolutely everything. And it may not make sense to make absolutely everything because you might buy it more cheaply, more efficiently made somewhere else, but certainly, it doesn’t make sense to decline your economic complexity.”

“People don’t realize that without nitrogen fertilizers … we could feed only about half of the population of the Earth. And the countries that are high producers are the U.S. and EU. They have high food productivity because they use a lot of fertilizer.”

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