Mark Brolin details why mainstream thought is often reliably wrong in totally predictable ways.


Mark Brolin is a Geopolitical Strategist + Economist (Stockholm School of Economics) + Author (three books published) + Keynote Speaker (attached to Chartwell Speakers globally excluding the Nordics and to Talarforum in the Nordics). Mark helps business leaders, policy makers and the public navigate today’s tumultuous – and analytically fascinating – transition period. He has had the opportunity to work with corporations, policy specialists, research institutes and think tanks across three continents. He is moreover a regular contributor to the current affairs debate in both the UK and Sweden (link to regular speech and media contribution topics here). Well-known earlier employers include OMX (Nasdaq), Cantor Fitzgerald and the Swedish Foreign Ministry (Sweden is his birth country but most of his professional life he has been headquartered in London). Mark’s corporate development background – he was de facto responsible for distinguishing corporate substance from corporate fluff – probably helps to explain a uniquely hands-on – and noise cancelling – approach.

Cover design by multimedia street artist Dean Stockton (D*Face)

Mark’s latest book project, Healing Broken Democracies: All you need to know about Populism, was a joint thought leader project including also Daron Acemoglu, David Goodhart, Matthew Goodwin, Jonathan Haidt, Eric Kaufmann and Luigi Zingales. A key argument Mark is making in the book is that we should look at the 2020s in much the same way as many other transition period decades. Meaning as a decade marked by massive technological shifts which in turn have triggered massive commercial and socioeconomic shifts. Such transition period decades are always distinguished by smoke, dust and intellectual confusion. As well as much more predictable – and favourable – outcomes than typically understood by those caught up in (yes, tedious) tribal mudslinging. An extract of the Jonathan Haidt chapter was published also by Politico

So geopolitics including assessment of key society trends and geopolitical risk is Mark’s forte. So is swiftly producing high quality material that, ahead of CEO/Board Level decisions, is paying heed to practical realities on the ground. One of Mark Brolin’s key USP’s is that he is uniquely intellectually independent (yes, he really is). Meaning for example that he has no permanent kinship to any political tribe or to any private sector vested interest. He never belonged to any political party since convinced that every political camp will take things too far – given the chance – and then dress up the excess offered as balance (which has happened in many times over recent years). So offering counterweight to the institutionalised groupthink that dominates each era – whatever it is – is how he thinks society is best served. As a consequence he does favour working with challenger/upstart organisations since such organisations will be incentivised to embrace rather than resist healthy change. Whereas the big beast organisations will often, for obvious reasons, seek to preserve the status quo. Not least by using their lobbying clout to stitch up the market. Anyone wondering about today’s, for example, “health and safety” hysteria? Or why many of the big players in the private sector have also started to talk and smell like public sector bureaucracies? Well, the tons of red tape that are nowadays part and parcel of life also in the private sector is especially hard to swallow for small or medium sized challengers. So, as if by chance, the latter tend either to go out of business or simply be gulped up by one of the big ones. 

Vested interest dominance not only serves society poorly in all sorts of ways, not least that it guarantees low quality analysis. Including a top-down paternalist mindset of the classic pro-big business rather than pro-free markets kind that always sounds glorious but also always stifles creativity, freedom of thought and authentic market-/doer orientation. So there is your answer if having ever wondered why no new major companies ever develop within areas marked by top-down control. Such as the eurozone. The dominance of the paternalists moreover explains why so many market participants, within such zones, are tying themselves into knots before admitting the actually obvious links between the current set up, the ever expanding graveyard for entrepreneurs and low growth.

The upside of these downsides is that there are presently amazing opportunities for those who, ahead of key decisions, proactively rise above the vested interest noise – and instead allow themselves to be guided by consumer- or voter market fundamentals. Mark Brolin has again and again emphasised that unless doing so, proactively, Good Governance is impossible. Both in the private sector and in the public sector. It is then also impossible to maximise stakeholder value (shareholders, consumers, voters). He would love to hear from those with the same mindset who want to somehow join forces.

In theory just about everyone agrees that no society can remain vital unless allowing challenges to received wisdom. In practice such challenges are still, now as always, resisted by those already in control of the reins of power.