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The Economist Hosted its Inaugural Open Future Festival

The Economist hosted its inaugural Open Future Festival, a live-streamed event that took place around the globe in New York, Hong Kong and London.

The event featured discussions on the most urgent issues of our time, including the future of media and democracy, technology as a force for progress, capitalism and free trade, and open borders and immigration and considered the future of freedom and individual rights with speakers representing many sides of the debate.

In New York, speakers included:

  • Steve Bannon former White House chief strategist
  • Susan Herman President, American Civil Liberties Union
  • David Miliband President, International Rescue Committee
  • Monika Bickert Head of Product Policy & Counterterrorism, Facebook
  • Anil Dash Chief Executive, Glitch
  • Julissa Arce Social Justice Advocate & Author, “My (Underground) American Dream,”
  • Amartya Sen Nobel Prize-Winning Economist
  • Special video message from Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg

In a two-part discussion on the future of liberalism, The Economist Editor-in-Chief Zanny Minton Beddoes has conversations with both Steve Bannon and David Miliband discussing everything from immigration and trade to climate change and the Time’s Up movement, which Bannon called, “the single most powerful potential political movement in the world.”

Highlights from other panels include:

  • A discussion of the future of media and democracy between Gady Epstein, The Economist’s Media editor and Hossein Derakhshan, Iran’s “blogfather,” writer and researcher, Harvard’s Shorenstein Center and MIT media lab in which Derakhshan asserted that President Trump’s move towards emotional, self-fulfillment in today’s political climate is problematic.
  • A conversation about whether America’s tech giants are still a force for progress at this pivotal moment in which what they do has increasing impact and influence on the political, entertainment, news and corporate spheres in America and the rest of the world.
    • Monika Bickert, Head of product policy and counterterrorism, Facebook, discussed the misconceptions around Facebook’s business model and the hypothetical situation of Facebook becoming a subscription-based service.
  • A discussion about civic engagement and debate in a divided nation, in which Digital activist and founder of #SmartBrownGirl movement Jouelzy critiqued the issue of double standard she’s experienced regarding her physical appearance in the business world.
    • She was joined by Jason Y. Lee, Founder, Jubilee Media and Sacha Nauta, The Economist’s Public Policy Editor.
  • A conversation between Zanny Minton Beddoes and Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen about what has gone wrong with capitalism and whether it’s rigged in favour of the elites, in which Sen discussed how Adam Smith would view the role free markets play in today’s economy.
  • A debate about whether or not immigration has gone too far with Michael Clemens, Co-director of migration, displacement, and humanitarian policy, Centre for Global Development, Julissa Arce, Social justice advocate and author, “My (Underground) American Dream, Jessica M. Vaughan, Director of policy studies, The Center for Immigration Studies and Idrees Kahloon, The Economist’s US policy correspondent.
    • The discussion led to a disagreement between Vaughn and Acre on the facts surrounding family-based migration.
  • A discussion about how liberal values can collide, especially when it comes to diversity, rights and free speech and if it’s possible to balance these inherent tensions among Susan Herman, President, ACLU, Anil Dash, Chief executive, Glitch, Heather MacDonald, Thomas W. Smith Fellow, The Manhattan Institute, and The Economist’s Idrees Kahloon. Susan Herman discussed the fundamental principles of the first amendment and how the ACLU is content neutral about the defense of speech.

The Economist has a growing global audience and a reputation for insightful analysis and perspective on every aspect of world events, The Economist is one of the most widely recognized and well-read current affairs publications in the world.

In addition to the weekly print and digital editions and website, The Economist publishes Espresso, a daily news app, Global Business Review, a bilingual English-Chinese product and Economist VR, a virtual-reality app.

Economist Radio produces several podcasts a week and Economist Films produces short- and long-form video.

The Economist maintains robust social communities on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, LINE, Medium and other social networks.

A recipient of many editorial and marketing awards, The Economist was named the most trusted news source by the 2017 Trusting News Project Report.


For more information contact: Erin Freilich – – 212.913.9254

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