“Global capitalism possesses enormous power to influence world events and to shape people’s lives,” Stan O’Neal, chairman, CEO and president of Merrill Lynch, told an audience of more than 250 students and faculty members last Wednesday. “Increasingly, economics — not diplomacy or politics — has become the common thread that tethers different parts of the world to one another.”
On campus last week as part of the David and Lyn Silfen Leadership Series, O’Neal spoke on the role Merrill Lynch — and the United States — must play to remain competitive in an increasingly competitive global economy.
“Just because we have been the center of the world’s financial markets until now does not mean that we can afford to be complacent about prospects for the future,” said O’Neal. “It’s critical to frame the discussion not just in terms of narrow parochial interests within the U.S. but in terms of sustaining the long-term competitiveness of the U.S.”
Fifty percent of revenues and profits from Merrill Lynch’s capital markets and investment banking businesses are derived from operations outside the United States, said O’Neal. Last year, the company’s fixed-income revenues outside the United States grew at a rate more than twice that of its U.S. business.
“The primary reason for the staggeringly high rate of growth in emerging economies is that the rest of the world is becoming more competitive — they’re becoming more like us,” said O’Neal, adding that historical differentiators between the United States and other countries — transparency, rule of law, regulatory consistency and liquidity — are rapidly eroding. “If we believe that democracy depends upon a dynamic economy to flourish, it becomes all the more critical to frame the debate around issues like education, healthcare, energy and immigration in a way that effectively supports our nation’s long-term interests and promotes our success in the global economy.”
More than 100 alumni work at Merrill Lynch worldwide. The School is also an active participant in the company’s Fellows Program, which awards merit-based fellowships to African American, Native American, Hispanic and female students interested in financial services and entering graduate business school.
The Silfen Leadership Series — organized entirely by students — brings some of the most influential people in business to campus for candid discussions on leadership. Recent speakers include Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, Ian Davis, managing partner of McKinsey & Company, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Carlos Ghosn, president and CEO of Renault and Nissan and Anne Moore, CEO of Time.