Svenska Swedish flag


2024: The Market

How have markets evolved throughout history, and what lessons can we glean from their development? What significance do markets hold in contemporary society, and how can we ensure their vitality for future prosperity? How do cultural and consumer behaviors, technological advancements, and geopolitical strategies shape market dynamics today, and what challenges and opportunities lie ahead?

The 2024 Engelsberg Seminar embarked on an exploration of the evolution of markets throughout history. The overarching objective was to gain a deep and profound understanding of the significance of markets in contemporary society and to discern strategies for sustaining their vitality to positively shape the future. The seminar unfolded through a series of panels, each delving into distinct aspects of market dynamics, from their origins to their present manifestations and future trajectories.

Starting in the PAST, the seminar examined trade, politics, and culture in the Roman marketplace, where the forum emerged as a focal point of civic life, serving as a nexus for commercial activities, political discourse, religious rituals, legal proceedings, and much else. In medieval northern Europe, the distinction between temporary, seasonal markets and permanent settlements-turned-cities shaped the socio-economic landscape, with markets often serving as intermediaries in politically and culturally contested border zones. The seminar explored the emergence of interest rates as a fundamental component of market dynamics and the concept of value, emphasizing its intricate connection to trust, stability, and security, with state-backed assets emerging as the ultimate safe haven. As these mechanisms were underpinned by legal frameworks, the seminar discussed the development of English common law during the late medieval period and its role in shaping the market economy in England and beyond.

Moving on to the PRESENT, the seminar shed light on the influence of cultural and consumer behavior on market dynamics. It analyzed technological progress and its relationship with liberalism over the centuries. The influence of technological change was evident in the military sphere. Today, the boundaries between civilian and military domains have become blurred in an era marked by the privatization and commercialization of defense capabilities.

Moreover, the seminar critically examined the role of ideological narratives in shaping foreign policy paradigms, with a particular focus on President Reagan’s strategic emphasis on the West’s economic openness as a countermeasure against Soviet communism. This historical case study provided insights into the broader intersection of economic interests, ideological imperatives, and geopolitical strategies in shaping global order to the benefit of Western liberal democracies. On the other side of the spectrum, the Soviet Union’s economic trajectory served as a cautionary tale, highlighting the perils of failed reforms and stagnating productivity in the face of rapid technological change.

The seminar explored the market of ideas and cultural domains, such as print and music, illuminating the transformative power – for good and bad – of advertising, and the role of cultural narratives in shaping public discourse and consumer behavior.

The seminar concluded by looking towards the FUTURE. It discussed the geopolitical challenges we face and will face, emphasizing the imperative of mobilizing national capacity to counter threats posed by authoritarian regimes and safeguard liberal democratic values. The case of Ukraine’s struggle against Russian aggression served as a poignant reminder of the stakes involved in preserving sovereignty and democracy in the face of external aggression. Discussions also turned towards the opportunities and challenges posed by emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), the potential ramifications of AI on market dynamics include increased volatility, complexity, and even the prospect of market replacement. The seminar questioned whether these pressures will overwhelm our current market structures, or if enough has been learned from past market crises to mitigate the impact of future economic downturns. For if the West loses its economic, innovative, and manufacturing edge, it might find itself outmaneuvered by its autocratic adversaries.


Origins of the Marketplace

David Butterfield

Senior Lecturer in Classics at Queens’ College, University of Cambridge

David Abulafia

Professor Emeritus of Mediterranean History & Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge

Mario Pisani

Visiting Professor at King’s College London and a Trustee of the Royal Mint Museum

Edward Chancellor

Columnist at Reuters Breakingviews

Inventing Capitalism

Caroline Burt

College Lecturer at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge

Eloise Davies

Departmental Lecturer in Political Theory and Acting Tutorial Fellow in Politics at Oriel College, University of Oxford

David Wootton

Anniversary Professor of History, University of York

Kwasi Kwarteng

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer and Member of Parliament, United Kingdom

The Innovation Factor

Iain Martin

Director of Engelsberg Ideas and the London Defence Conference

Sergey Radchenko

Wilson E. Schmidt Distinguished Professor at the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, Johns Hopkins SAIS

Rikard Westerberg

Center Director at the Center for Statecraft and Strategic Communication, Stockholm School of Economics

Paul Tucker

Research Fellow of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, Harvard Kennedy School

The Art of Selling

Ali Ansari

Professor of Iranian History & Founding Director of the Institute for Iranian Studies, University of St Andrews

Marie Kawthar Daouda

Stipendiary Lecturer in French at Oriel College, University of Oxford

Richard Bratby

Chief Classical Music Critic of the Spectator

Ian Leslie

Writer, Speaker, and Author

Markets in War

Jade McGlynn

Research Fellow at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London

Shashank Joshi

Defence Editor at the Economist

Ulrike Franke

Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations

America in the World

Charlie Laderman

Senior Lecturer in International History at the Department of War Studies, King’s College, London

Francis J. Gavin

Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and Inaugural Director of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, Johns Hopkins SAIS

William Inboden

Professor and Director of the Hamilton Center for Classical and Civic Education, University of Florida

Knut N. Kjaer

Executive Chairperson of Sector Asset Management, Professor in Finance & Sustainability, Norwegian University of Life Science, and Chairperson of the Supervisory Board of APG Asset Management

How the West Wins

Mick Ryan

Australian Army Major General (ret.), Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute and Adjunct Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies

Mary Bridges

Ax:son Johnson Institute for Statecraft and Diplomacy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, Johns Hopkins SAIS

Magnus Henrekson

Professor of Economics and Senior Research Fellow at the Research Institute of Industrial Economics

Alina Polyakova

President and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis

Market Solutions

Nicklas Berild Lundblad

Head of Global Policy and Public Affairs, DeepMind Ltd

Linda Yueh

Fellow in Economics at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford and Adjunct Professor of Economics, London Business School

Adrian Wooldridge

Global Business Columnist, Bloomberg Opinion