Keynote Speaker

Willis Sparks, director of Global Macro at Eurasia Group, was the Annual Meeting's keynote speaker.

Keynote speaker Willis Sparks discussed globalization and U.S. politics at this year’s Annual Meeting of the members. Sparks is the director of Global Macro at Eurasia Group, which helps its clients understand how politics across the world impact opportunities and risks faced in global markets. “I look at the world from 35,000 feet and I talk about the big trends that are going on in the world that create the framework in which a lot of our clients are trying to understand their place and the opportunities and risks that come with that,” Sparks said. 

Sparks focused on globalization, which refers to the goods and services that cross international borders. Specifically, Sparks spoke to the question, “is globalization dead?” 

“Yes… if you’re Russia.  If you are Russia, globalization is not coming back for the foreseeable future.  If you’re not Russia, globalization is alive and well,” Sparks said. The war between Russia and Ukraine has impacted energy markets, food markets, European security, U.S. and European relations, European politics, and China. 

“Globalization is dead for Russia at this point, because in ordering this invasion, knowing that you’re not going to be able to back down, but not apparently knowing the Ukrainians were going to fight back, not knowing that your own military is not ready for this war, not knowing that the U.S. and the Europeans were going to actually unite and do something forceful about this, they left themselves in a position where they showed, particularly when it comes to energy, that Putin will never be a reliable commercial partner.  You can never trust him again,” Sparks said. 

Regarding U.S. politics and the elections, Sparks said regardless of which way the votes end up in this (Nov. 8) election, “we’re headed for two years of political stalemate, two years of investigations. Assuming the Republicans do control the House, I do think that there will be an impeachment process against President Biden. It’s going to be an ugly, poisonous, toxic two years.”  

When it comes to the presidential election, both parties will try to persuade voters that the outcome will decide the fate of America. “It’s not going to decide the fate of our economy or our democracy.  It does matter who’s in power, it does matter who wins, but what you do, what you do here in the heartland, and what people across this country do on a regular basis every day to make this country move forward is more important than the constant back and forth in American politics,” Sparks said. 

Sparks closed on a positive note saying, “it is the innovator, it is the entrepreneur, it is the scientist, it is the business decision maker, it is the private sector, it is the people who make sure that when we flip the switch the lights come on in our homes, and that when we want hot water, we can get hot water, the people who power our economy, these are the engines of prosperity and progress in this country.”