Noreena Hertz (born 24 September 1967) is an English author, economist and broadcaster and currently Professor at the Centre for the Study of Decision-Making Uncertainty at University College London. In 2001 The Observer newspaper dubbed her "one of the world's leading young thinkers" and Vogue magazine described her as "one of the most inspiring women in the world." Describing herself as "a campaigning academic", critics have called her "a do-gooder who moves like a grasshopper from one high-profile good cause to another." She has been called the 'Nigella Lawson of economics' by the UK media,"because she combines striking beauty with a formidable mind" and the 'self-appointed It girl of anti-globalisation.' Fast Company magazine has named her "one of the most influential economists on the international stage" and observed: "For more than two decades [her] economic predictions have been accurate and ahead of the curve."
Hertz's books are published in 17 languages.
Hertz is a great-granddaughter of British Chief Rabbi Joseph H. Hertz, and was born and brought up in East Finchley, London. When she was 20 years old, her mother, the fashion designer and feminist activist Leah Hertz, died of cancer.
Hertz was a precocious child and began her schooling aged just 3 years, taking her A levels at age 16. She first attended North London Collegiate School followed by Westminster School. She graduated from University College London in philosophy and economics at the age of 18. She then attended The Wharton School, Philadelphia, where she majored in finance and earned her MBA at age 21. Hertz then worked for a short period at Triad Artists, a talent agency in Los Angeles, California, where she originally planned to break into the film industry as a producer, before taking up a position as a consultant for the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Disillusioned by what she perceived as failings in the World Bank's approach to post-Soviet reforms, she quit her post and worked briefly for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Of the IFC, she said: "Early on I raised the issue of social safety nets and was quite shocked to see how clearly my concerns were dismissed." Having returned to the UK she studied for a PhD in economics and business at King's College, Cambridge. Her Cambridge doctoral thesis, Russian Business Relationships in the Wake of Reform was published in 1997 by St. Martin's Press.
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The Silent Takeover (2001)
In The Silent Takeover: Global Capitalism and the Death of Democracy Hertz warned that unregulated markets, corporate greed, and over-powerful financial institutions would have serious global consequences that would impact most heavily on the ordinary citizen. Hertz received a record six-figure advance from Random House for the book which, in pre-publicity, she promised would "make economics sexy." Although the book became a bestseller, it was not well-received when first published. Francis Beckett, for The Independent, later observed that the book "was lavishly praised and savagely attacked in equal measure" but had nevertheless "launched her as a new sort of thinker - the first prominent British radical left winger to come out of the business schools." Howard Davies, reviewing it for London's The Guardian newspaper, dismissed it as "globaloney", written in "a style beloved of airport-newsstand business books: random statistic piled on borrowed anecdote, larded with a bit of homespun cod philosophy, shaken not stirred."
Tariq Ali, for The Independent, called the book "well-intentioned" but "a much milder version [of] three more vigorous North American texts that have already achieved cult status" (Naomi Klein's No Logo, Thomas Frank's One Market Under God and Kalle Lasn's Culture Jam.) Ali characterised it as neoliberal, "Third Way anti-capitalism" and concluded "What Hertz really wants is a government that can unite business interests with those of ordinary people - like expecting homoeopathic drops to cure a cancer."
Will Self described the book as "superficially readable" but was critical of Hertz's ideology, calling it "an aggressive questioning of the pernicious status quo, but with only a febrile grasp on any potential solution - what used to be expected of a precocious adolescent, rather than a Cambridge assistant professor entering her mid-thirties."
Frank Fitzgibbon, for The Sunday Times, described it as "well-written, colourful and sometimes entertaining" but ultimately "one long whinge, full of hackneyed observations... like a 212-page Guardian editorial on the venality of politicians, the evils of big business and the right-on credentials of concerned citizens." Responding to the book's advance publicity which said The Silent Takeover "provides a new and startling take on the way we live now", Fitzgibbon observed: "With the possible exception of a quote from Bhutan's king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck - "gross national happiness is more important than gross national product" - there is nothing in this book that is not already known to anybody with a passing interest in business and current affairs. It has all been said before but, to her credit, Hertz says it with style and with her telegenic looks she should be in demand on the chat-show circuit."
Jennifer Szalai, for the New Statesman, wrote that the book was "at best, an anaemic objection to global capitalism" and pointed out: "For anybody who has read anything about corporations beyond their annual reports... the examples in this book are nothing new." Szalai described Hertz's "line of argument" as "a listless string of tired phrases, exposing her apparent ambivalence on the subject."
IOU: The Debt Threat (2004)
IOU: The Debt Threat and Why We Must Defuse It comprised a study of debt in developing countries and provided Hertz's blueprint for development. Paul Kingsnorth, reviewing for the New Statesman, wrote: "Noreena is the Joanne Harris of political writing - and IOU, like its author, is all style and no substance." Kingsnorth said that her explanation of the debt issue was: "All fine, but also largely redundant, because this stuff has been circulating for years, and Hertz adds nothing new to the mix." He also found sections of the book "misleading" and noted that "her old employer the World Bank emerges with a curiously positive report card from a book about a problem it created almost single-handedly. The bank's former chief economist Larry Summers is represented as a passionate champion of the poor. Perhaps Hertz is not aware of the infamous internal memo that was leaked from the bank, in which this angelic man wrote: I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest-wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that... I've always thought that underpopulated countries in Africa are vastly underpolluted..." He dismissed the book as simply "going through the motions" and "remarkably bad writing."
Richard Adams, for The Guardian, wrote: "There is nothing here that will surprise readers of Susan George's 1988 book A Fate Worse than Debt, which remains the most forceful call for undoing the burden of the developing world." Hertz's proposed solutions were, he wrote, not well defined. "Some of her suggestions are patronising - setting up panels of international "overseers" for aid funding is a bit rich given her diatribes against external IMF and World Bank meddling - while one is downright dangerous: that wealthy nations hypothecate the taxes paid by immigrant workers for use as overseas aid (so removing their last shield against the xenophobe or racist, that they too pay taxes for the NHS)." Adams also found the book "littered with errors... that smack of economic illiteracy and careless research." Of her style, he observed: "Readers may also be unimpressed with Hertz's informal prose style and strangled syntax... The first chapter, especially, reads like a rejected screenplay for an unhappy episode of The West Wing." Adams concluded his review by writing: "While no one can doubt Hertz's good intentions, the road to hell is paved with books like IOU. Developing-world debt is a serious issue, and it deserves more judicious treatment than this."
Diane Coyle, for The Independent, called IOU "another pamphlet disguised as a book" and opined that "It pretends to weigh up the details and evidence, but its tone implies that anyone who disagrees is stupid or bad... HIV/Aids, the loss of Amazon rainforests and terrorism [are not] caused by these debts, which is the facile claim Hertz makes."
Desmond Tutu credited the book with a "remarkable clarity" and said it "puts forward clear recommendations that can and must be taken." Writing for the New Statesman he declared: "IOU should not go unnoticed. When the truth is told about international debt, then we can begin to overcome the scandalous debt slavery of the world's poor." Hannah Betts, for The Times, labelled the book "more than liberal breast-beating - it endeavours to be a psychology of debt... Without ever falling into the pat illiberalisms that the West brought 9/11 and its aftermath on itself, Hertz discusses the ways in which terrorism, disease and ecological meltdown may be the consequences of Third World stagnation."
She is also a fellow of University College London.
Hertz played an influential role in the development of the (PRODUCT)RED campaign, an innovative commercial model to raise money for people with AIDS in Africa, having inspired Bono (co-founder of the project) with her writings.
Make Poverty History
Mayday for Nurses
In April 2007 Hertz launched the Mayday for Nurses campaign in Britain to alleviate the problems of low pay in nursing. Hertz promised nurses at the Royal College of Nursing annual conference that she would make sure that every football player in the Premier League would, by the end of the season, have donated one day's pay (totalling around £1.5 million) to a hardship fund for nurses struggling in their first few years. The campaign was filmed for a Channel 4 documentary, The Million Pound Footballers' Giveaway, broadcast on 7 June 2007.
The campaign received a "mixed response" and was described by some commentators as "intellectually flawed" and "a thinly-veiled form of blackmail." Gareth Southgate, then the manager of Middlesbrough F.C., cancelled his club's donation after Hertz published a list of footballers who had contributed, "effectively 'outing' those who had not." Southgate said: "I am disgusted with the manner in which this campaign has gone about its fundraising. Mayday for Nurses is a worthy cause, but there are many others. The players at this club support any number of local and national charities and good causes, either via financial support, giving up their own time or both. This is often done privately, meaning they neither receive nor ask for any public gratitude or praise... I think it's outrageous that the campaign's fundraising style has bordered on blackmail, with the message being basically, 'Give us your money or we'll publicly shame you'."
Moritz Volz, then playing for Fulham F.C., explained in The Times: "Everyone in our squad decided to donate a day's pay to the Mayday for Nurses appeal. But [Hertz's] ignorance [of football and the media] is what caused it to backfire. Instead of focusing on poor pay for nurses, the media coverage ended up being primarily about footballers and their money... Publishing the names of those who donated was naive in the extreme... Anyone who knows football and the media in this country would immediately point out that you're creating a much juicier story, ie, the names not on the list. Those who didn't contribute were left defenceless, even though they may have had good reasons for their decision, not least that they might do plenty of work for charities below the radar. Those are the things tabloids won't write about. Unfortunately, the way the campaign was conducted didn't help us as a profession and it hasn't helped the nurses."
Advisory roles, trusteeships
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Hertz acts in an advisory capacity for "major multinational corporations, CEOs, NGOs and politicians, as well as start-up companies, and sits on various corporate and charitable boards." She is a member of the Inclusive Capitalism Task Force, chaired by Dominic Barton, Global Managing Director of McKinsey & Company. She is also an advisor to the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media and a Trustee of the Institute for Public Policy Research.
Hertz is married to Danny Cohen, the Director of BBC Television. They were married in 2012 at the Bevis Marks Synagogue in the City of London. The ceremony was conducted by Lord Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, and attended by guests including Rachel Weisz, Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi. She lives with her husband in Primrose Hill, London.
- "Birthdays". The Guardian (London). 24 September 2012. p. 26.
- "Birthdays". The Independent (London). 24 September 2012. p. 44.
- Naughton, John (8 May 2011). "Britain's top 300 intellectuals". The Observer (London). Retrieved 1 August 2013.
- Hertz, Noreena (8 April 2001). "Why we must stay silent no longer". The Observer (London). Retrieved 1 August 2013.
- Buckley, Will (10 June 2007). "Charity begins at home, but not in the Big Brother house". The Observer (London). p. 19.
- "How I moved the hearts of football's millionaires". Evening Standard (London). 29 May 2007. p. 1.
- Stewart, Heather (26 September 2004). "The debt the West owes the Third World: Noreena Hertz's book is a thundering polemic against Western politicians and bankers". The Observer (London). p. 16.
- Self, Will (27 May 2001). "How to be an economics goddess". The Independent (London). pp. 6–8.
- Roberts, Alison (9 May 2001). "'They call me the Nigella Lawson of economics'". Evening Standard (London). p. 29.
- Bennett, Catherine (26 July 2001). "Direct action - all the rage but does it work?". The Guardian (London).
- Kingsnorth, Paul (8 November 2004). "On the money". New Statesman 17 (832) (London). pp. 52–53.
- "Noreena Hertz". Fast Company. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
- Fraser, Douglas (22 June 2005). "Rebel with a capital cause". The Herald (Glasgow). p. 15.
- Crichton, Torcuil (26 September 2004). "'Sub-saharan Africa pays out $30 million every day servicing debt, and 30 million people have aids. That money could make a real difference'". Sunday Herald (Glasgow). p. 9.
- Betts, Hannah (18 September 2004). "A beautiful mind". The Times (London). p. 50.
- Beckett, Francis (21 October 2004). "In search of a radical way". The Independent (London). p. 18.
- Jasper, Gerard (26 April 1999). "Diary". The Times (London). p. 20.
- "The Silent Takeover earned her a six-figure advance - the highest yet for a work on economics." "Stirred into action by political apathy". Times Higher Education (London). 6 April 2001. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
- "Best selling business books". The Sunday Times (London). 6 May 2001. p. 10.
- Davies, Howard (19 May 2001). "Breathless globaloney: Are there no genuine political choices?". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 1 August 2013.
- Ali, Tariq (1 May 2001). "The Third Way for anti-capitalists". The Independent (London). p. 5.
- Fitzgibbon, Frank (6 May 2001). "Whinger's guide to globalisation". The Sunday Times (London). p. 10.
- Szalai, Jennifer (11 June 2001). "We can't, we won't". New Statesman 14 (660) (London). pp. 69–70.
- "THE DEBT THREAT: How Debt Is Destroying the Developing World". Publishers Weekly. 3 January 2005. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
- Adams, Richard (30 October 2004). "Hard to credit: Richard Adams tackles some grim reading on the debt burden". The Guardian (London). p. 11. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
- Coyle, Diane (23 September 2004). "Facile claims on debt that don't add up". The Independent (London). p. 37.
- Tutu, Desmond (25 October 2004). "IOU: The Debt Threat and Why We Must Defuse It". New Statesman (Political Studies Guide 2005) (London).
- "The World According To... Noreena Hertz". The Independent (London). 15 September 2004. p. 2.
- Rudd, Alyson (12 October 2007). "That's rich: Southgate should be applauded for tough stance on nurses". The Times (London). p. 89.
- Triggle, Nick (17 April 2007). "Footballers highlight nurse woes". BBC News. Retrieved 3 February 2011.
- Martin, Samuel (15 October 2007). "Rooney's flaw show". The Times (London). p. 7.
- Moore, Glenn (7 May 2008). "Football's Charitable Status". The Independent (London). p. 46.
- Stewart, Rob (12 October 2007). "Southgate in war of words with charity". The Daily Telegraph (London). p. 7.
- Hardy, Martin (12 October 2007). "THAT'S BLACKMAIL! Boro fury at charity tactics". Daily Mail (London). p. 1.
- "Angry soccer boss blocks donation to nurses' fund in 'blackmail' row". The Yorkshire Post (Leeds). 12 October 2007.
- Volz, Moritz (29 October 2007). "Mayday for Nurses appeal". The Times (London). p. 15.
- "About Noorena". Noreena Hertz. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
- Eden, Richard (4 March 2012). "Wedding with Weisz". The Sunday Telegraph (London). p. 11.
- Lipman, Jennifer (23 April 2013). "Danny Cohen to be BBC's director of television". The Jewish Chronicle (London). Retrieved 19 August 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Noreena Hertz.|
- Noreena Hertz's personal website
- Noreena Hertz's TED Talk - "How To Use Experts - And When Not To"
- Hertz interview with Bill Moyers
- Hertz essay on the future of capitalism, March 2009