BUSINESS

Michael Spence: When Economies Go Through Big Changes, There Are 'A Lot Of Bumps In The Road'

01/24/2014 04:49 am ET | Updated Jan 24, 2014

Michael Spence of the Berggruen Institute joined HuffPost Live at Davos on Friday to talk about the "unpredictable" nature of countries going through major economic changes.

"What is not surprising is that when you make a big change in the way things are organized, there's a lot of bumps along the road until you find a new path," Spence said.

Spence gave the example of Eastern Europe, which "experienced what is commonly called a 'lost decade'" after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

"Now they're basically thriving," Spence said.

Spence then speculated on changes in the Middle East.

"I think an optimistic view would be, there will be a lot of pushing and shoving and figuring it where one wants to be, and it will take a few years, but the Middle East and Africa will come out of this," Spence said.

Watch Spence's interview above, and see more updates from Davos below:

01/25/2014 10:07 AM EST

Bill Gates Discusses The Hyper-Connectivity Concern

01/25/2014 10:06 AM EST

Polman's View On Work/Life Balance

"We are very fortunate to do what we like to do... so I get a lot of energy out of what I do," Polman said.

"I don't personally believe in work/life balance," Polman said, adding that he hopes to have a happy life balance that includes his work.

"We have to watch what we do, I like to run so I do that every day, and increasingly watch what you eat and maintain your health a little bit," Polman said.

01/25/2014 10:00 AM EST

'We Have A Moral Obligation'

"I think we have a moral obligation to use what is given to us for the benefit of all," Polman said.

"We have no rights to exclude people," Polman said.

01/25/2014 9:59 AM EST

Statue Of Responsibility

"I always say when they built the Statue of Liberty on the east coast of the United States, they forgot to build the Statue of Responsibility on the west coast," Polman said.

01/25/2014 9:56 AM EST

'We Really Need To Move Into Reaction Mode'

"I think people are starting to discover that we really need to move into reaction mode," Polman said.

Polman said the political process has become "incredibly difficult" and is riddled with "poor agreements."

"There is some progress but frankly, not fast enough, and the business community can not wait," Polman said.

"There is more of an urge from responsible business... to drive to action," Polman added.

01/25/2014 9:55 AM EST

'There Is An Enormous Demand On Food'

"Obviously as the population grows with the changing dietary habits, there is an enormous demand on food," Polman said.

Polman said he's worked to find sustainable solutions to food production.

01/25/2014 9:52 AM EST

'There's An Enormous Pressure On The CEO Of Today'

Arianna sat down with Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, on HuffPost Live at Davos on Saturday to talk about pressure in business.

"There's a lot of pressure on the short-term," Polman said.

"There's an enormous pressure on the CEO of today," Polman added.

Polman said "the real purpose of business is to serve society," not to cater to the shareholder, but often the latter is what CEOs are focused on because of pressure.

01/25/2014 9:22 AM EST

Al Gore: 'We Need To Put A Price On Denial In Politics'

01/25/2014 8:49 AM EST

Brad Smith On Unplugging

Smith said he unplugs by getting outside and learning new things by doing things like reading.

"To me, that's a real joy," Smith said.

01/25/2014 8:45 AM EST

Relationship Between Business And Government

Smith said the relationship between business and government has a few different dimensions that usually exist at the same time.

"The government defines the laws and we comply with them," Smith said. "There may be times we think the government goes too far and we challenge them... there are times when we work together. There are times when the government is our customer."

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