The following conversation between Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, and Larry Summers, professor at Harvard University, took place at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics in February 2018.
About Ray and Larry:
In 1975, Ray Dalio founded an investment firm, Bridgewater Associates, out of his two-bedroom apartment in New York City. Over forty years later, Bridgewater has grown into the fifth most important private company in the United States, according to Fortunemagazine, and Dalio himself has been named to Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Along the way, Dalio discovered a set of unique principles that have led to Bridgewater’s exceptionally effective culture, which he describes as “an idea meritocracy that strives to achieve meaningful work and meaningful relationships through radical transparency.” It is these principles, and not anything special about Dalio—who grew up an ordinary kid in a middle-class Long Island neighborhood—that he believes are the reason behind his success.
Lawrence H. Summers is President Emeritus of Harvard University. During the past two decades he has served in a series of senior policy positions, including Vice President of development economics and chief economist of the World Bank, Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, Director of the National Economic Council for the Obama Administration from 2009 to 2011, and Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, from 1999 to 2001. He received a bachelor of science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1975 and was awarded a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1982. In 1983, he became one of the youngest individuals in recent history to be named as a tenured member of the Harvard University faculty. In 1987 Mr. Summers became the first social scientist ever to receive the annual Alan T. Waterman Award of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and in 1993, he was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal, given every two years to the outstanding American economist under the age of 40. He is currently the Charles W. Eliot University Professor at Harvard University and directs the University’s Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government. He and his wife Elisa New, a professor of English at Harvard, reside in Brookline with their six children.