A librarian holds books at a checkout counter at the City of Santa Clarita Public Library Valencia branch in Santa Clarita, California, U.S. (Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg)

What the World’s Leaders at the New Economy Forum Are Reading

(Bloomberg) -- How do businesses innovate? What can we learn from history? How can we survive the current political climate? How do you understand the U.S. and China?

These are the questions weighing on the world’s business and government leaders, at least based on what they’re reading. Officials and executives on the sidelines of the New Economy Forum in Singapore, disclosed what they’ve been pulling off bookshelves and downloading onto Kindles recently.

China and the U.S.

China’s Crisis of Success,” by William Overholt, about how the country needs to re-invent its economy and politics to keep advancing. “It’s the best book on China out there,” said Chng Kai Fong, managing director of Singapore’s Economic Development Board.

The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels,” by Jon Meacham, a look back at critical times in American history when hope overcame division and fear. Yoriko Kawaguchi, Japan’s former foreign minister, said she plans to start reading this soon.


Spearhead: A Complete History of Merrill’s Marauder Rangers,” by James E. T. Hopkins and John M. Jones, the story of a U.S. volunteer regiment during World War Two. FedEx Corp. Chief Executive Officer Frederick Smith read it on the flight to Singapore.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister-in-waiting, Anwar Ibrahim, said he spent much of his decade of imprisonment reading “hundreds of books,” including International Monetary Fund reports and the complete works of William Shakespeare. He said he’s currently reading a history of the Renaissance.

What the World’s Leaders at the New Economy Forum Are Reading

The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914,” by Christopher Clark, and “Peacemakers: The Paris Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War,” by Margaret MacMillan. HSBC Bank Plc senior economic adviser Stephen King is going through these two histories book-ending the first World War.

Business Tomes

Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone,” by Satya Nadella. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO David Solomon said he’s reading this book by his counterpart at Microsoft, who he called a terrific leader doing great things.

Measure What Matters,” by venture capitalist John Doerr. Go-Jek CEO Nadiem Makarim said he likes it because it sets a simple framework for flexible target setting, and in fact he’s using at his ride-hailing app company.

What the World’s Leaders at the New Economy Forum Are Reading

Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World,” by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope. Anthony Tan, CEO of ride-hailing app Grab, is currently absorbed in this the story about Jho Low and the 1MDB scandal that rocked his home country of Malaysia. Tan has a personal connection, as his wife’s father is mentioned in the book for his media company’s role in breaking news about the indiscretion.

Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle,” by Dan Senor and Saul Singer. Econet Group founder Strive Masiyiwa calls this narrative about how Israel is producing so many start-up companies “the most inspiring book out there at the moment.”

Current Events

Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations,” by Thomas Friedman. Wang Huiyao, director of the Center for China & Globalization, said he’s reading the New York Times columnist’s guide to the modern world.

The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity,” by Kwame Anthony Appiah. London School of Economics director and former BOE deputy governor Minouche Shafik is leafing through this probing critique of identity politics.

Leadership: In Turbulent Times," by Doris Kearns Goodwin is what David Rubenstein, Carlyle Group’s co-founder and co-chairman is reading. The book looks at four U.S. presidents to determine what makes great leaders.

What the World’s Leaders at the New Economy Forum Are Reading