Interview with Daniel Stelter
Before he worked from 1990 to 2013 as a consultant at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), most recently as Senior Partner and Managing Director and member of BCG's Executive Committee. From 2003 to 2011, he was in charge of BCG's Corporate Strategy and Finance practice area.
Besides advising companies, family offices and wealthy individuals on strategic and macroeconomic issues, Daniel Stelter authored several books. "Accelerating out of the Great Recession", won the getAbstract International Book Award 2010. "Die Schulden im 21. Jahrhundert" and "Eiszeit in der Weltwirtschaft" made it on the bestseller list for business books in Germany. His newest book "Das Märchen vom reichen Land" made it on the top 10 list for non-fiction books in Germany (SPIEGEL). Daniel Stelter is also an internationally sought-after speaker.
Dr. Stelter graduated in business administration (1988) and holds a doctorate in economics (1990). Both at Hochschule St. Gallen (Switzerland).
Hi Daniel! Could you please introduce your work with Beyond The Obvious and tell us a bit more about what led to your founding the platform in 2013?
Beyond The Obvious is a forum to discuss fundamental economic challenges, like the Eurozone crisis; like the financial crisis; like issues concerning migration and, at the same time, the implications for individuals and businesses. The idea to found Beyond the Obvious came after spending more than 20 years in consulting at the Boston Consulting Group in leading roles. I thought it would be nice and important to broaden these discussions - these topics - to attract a broader public, and to engage with the broader public on these issues, as I have the impression that, also in the media, sometimes things are oversimplified and not explained in the required detail. This has been my motivation of finding Beyond The Obvious, and it's now up and running for more than six years, and I'm very proud of the groups of people following me, and reading me, and commenting on the articles I'm writing there. And I think I really achieved part of what I want to achieve by broadening, it is a broader public discussion, and to engage with the broader public on the important issues - not only for Germany, but for whole of Europe.
What kind of information and discussions can be found on Beyond The Obvious that can't be found anywhere else?
On Beyond The Obvious you'll find fundamental discussions concerning the future of the Eurozone, mainly the unresolved issues of too much debt and diverging competitiveness. You'll find discussions concerning the financial markets globally, as to whether the valuations are fine; as to whether we face new bubbles. We discuss monetary policy, we discuss the impact of demographic change - these are the topics you find on Beyond The Obvious. And well, if you dig deep, you'll find most of it also in other media, but I try to combine the best of the media I can read - or my readers actually read it and send it to me - and to comment it, and to basically give it into a broader framework, or put it in a broader framework. Therefore, it is a center for these topics. It's basically a go-to place for these topics, but by no means the only place you can find these discussions and these thoughts. But I think it's unique in the way it's combining different sources and giving an additional view.
What was your strategy for building the audience of Beyond The Obvious? Who is your biggest client base?
Well, if you start a webpage and it might be with some ***** fanciest name, like Beyond The Obvious, it is by no means clear that you are having media traffic on your page. So what I've done is a combination of things. First thing is I just kept on doing continuous works there - you'll find nine pieces per week. It's weekdays at 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock, and Fridays just at 9 o'clock, because the afternoon people don't read as much anymore, and the weekends, anyhow, is lower traffic. So I continued being very disciplined and having these nine comments, or articles, by week. The second point is: I started writing - or providing - content for others, like *** magazine, *****, ****, leading German **** articles, writing for The Globalist from time to time. And these publications are linked back to Beyond the Obvious. And this is how it basically works - this was driving traffic on that page, people are recommending it, I wrote books and articles on other areas - and this has generated, now, a solid group of people continuously or repeatedly coming on my webpage, and participating in these discussions.
What are some of the most innovative and effective policy recommendations and memos you've developed through Beyond The Obvious?
Well, coming up with political recommendations is probably more easy if you're not a politician, so that's what I'm doing. I think on the Eurozone: a clear view is that we have to think about ways to restructure the debt, because otherwise we are not going to escape a Japanese scenario in Europe. I'm also supporting the idea of restructuring the Eurozone, as some countries are not in a position to continue to be successful within the Euro. And concerning the global debt crisis: I am discussing issues like global **** - basically giving away or canceling debt like they've done in Mesopotamia already, 7000 years back. Or coming up as more innovative approaches, like using **** bank balance sheets to buy up debt and then basically cancelling it; or postponing repayments for a few hundred years, which is equivalent, if not the same, basically like a cancellation. So these are the things coming out of the Eurozone and the financial crisis. And in Germany specifically I actually ask, and I urge politicians, to change track fundamentally - so we have to get away from the fetish of having a black zero in the government budget. I think we need to invest more. We need also to have our government taking on debt, in order to lower our trade surplus, to allow Germans to save money, with Germany not exporting capital. We have to invest in education, innovation; we have to invest in digitalization; we, at the same time, we have to reduce the share of social welfare spending and redistribution. So, basically, we have to do everything to equip the young generation with the means to earn as much as possible per capita, and therefore always being in a position to fund an aging society. These are the topics I am coming up with, do I say, well, would I say it's the most innovative? I would not probably say so. Is it effective? Well, it's contributing to the discussion.
What's next for your work with Beyond The Obvious? What will be your main focus for the next year?
Well the forecast for the next two years is going to continue the current path continue writing continue broadening the audience. Continuing also to broaden the topic range and clearly aiming to get more of an influence in the political sphere. So having more access to decision makers in the political sphere as a goal of Beyond the obvious is not so much a commercial one but rather the goal is to influence a public discussion. That's what the goal is and I'll keep on working on doing so and I hope some people who have seen these videos are interested and visiting my page and engaging this discussion. Thanks so much.