I'm trying to muster up some prominent guest speakers with an economics background to visit this country, either virtually on Zoom or physically next year, to get back to the way of things before the virus closed our borders. On that note, a line I sometimes use to hook high profile types is to say we are a quite isolated little island and would greatly appreciate the visit to connect us better with the world and enable us to benefit from alternative views.
In the case of Former US Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke, who was at Princeton when I worked there for a few years, such a line seems to have backfired. Turns out he's fully engaged in research projects at the Brookings Institute in Washington now & isn't doing the kinds of public engagements I had in mind. This is how he replied to me:
"Your comment about NZ’s isolation reminds me of a headline that supposedly once appeared in a British newspaper: “Heavy fog grips Channel; Europe isolated".
My interpretation of his line is that he thinks NZ is doing just fine, and that the world could benefit from interaction with us, not the other way around! (I believe this to be the meaning of the headline in the old British papers - namely that in the past, when fog prevented navigation in the Channel, it wasn’t the UK that was regarded as “cut off”, but rather the European continent, which was unable to benefit from the connection with the British Isles).
So on an optimistic note, seems that Ben Bernanke thinks it is NZ which can teach the world a thing or two, not the other way around!?