There are few more global characters than Sir Martin Sorrell. The co-founder and CEO of WPP, the world's largest communications company, Sir Martin presides over a company that has 153,000 people working in 2,400 offices in 107 countries. So when Sir Martin says, of the West, that "our game is over" and the decline of the US and Europe is "inevitable" and "irreversible," we need to sit up and listen very carefully.
And that's exactly what Sir Martin told me when I interviewed him at WPP's annual Stream conference just outside Athens. Saying that the west is "focused on our navels," Sorrell argued that power in the world is shifting not only east, to China and India, but also south and south-east to Latin America and Africa. Indeed, Sir Martin would advise a young American or Western European to go and live in dynamic economies like Brazil, Vietnam or Indonesia in order to fully realize themselves in today's global economy.
So what's the solution to what Sorrell calls the "scary" economic crisis in the west? Sir Martin has three answers: leadership, leadership, leadership. "We have to have leadership," he insists, if we are to compete with the strong, well managed economies outside the US and Europe.