Brain food: Speaking out - Adair Turner/London School of Economics

Brain food: Speaking out - Adair Turner/London School of Economics - Adair Turner ought to be an accomplished speaker after four and a half years as CBI director-general. However, this month he relinquishes his post and becomes a visiting professor at the

by KHALID AZIZ
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Adair Turner ought to be an accomplished speaker after four and a half years as CBI director-general. However, this month he relinquishes his post and becomes a visiting professor at the London School of Economics.

With this in mind he gave a lecture to 100 students and other interested parties at the LSE. The subject was the differences between the economies of the US, the UK and Continental Europe.

Turner clearly believes that to be a credible professor he must now revert to his own student experiences. He was really boring. Not that he hadn't worked on his presentation. He had written a 45-minute script but it was full of subordinate clauses, long sentences and so on. Turner did what most do in these circumstances: he ploughed on through it. If you listened hard it was quite productive - except for the points when he was clearly struggling with what he had written. However, he deftly developed his theme of conflict between the Americanist and Continentalist theories on the way the British economy should go. The Americans promote the liberalisation of markets while the Continentals say prosperity comes from controlled investment in both labour and capital to ensure workers are not exploited.

Ever the diplomat, Turner concluded that it is wrong to take both concepts to extremes. Indeed, he said there is no one route to economic success, but then I suspect we all knew that before the start of the lecture.

Key moment: The revelation that the US remains 35%-40% ahead of the UK in terms of GDP per capita.

Key lesson: Organise your stage in advance. A quarter of the audience could not see the screen. And becoming a professor doesn't mean suspending one's communication skills.

Silver tongue or foot in mouth?

Khalid Aziz

e-mail: khalida@azizcorp.com.

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