9. Zhou Xiaochuan
for reminding the world that we can't take the dollar for granted.
Governor, People's Bank of China | China
These days, China's politicians rarely miss an opportunity to lecture the United States on its fiscal recklessness. But Zhou, the People's Bank of China governor, worried about the safety of the $1 trillion in U.S. debt held by Beijing, has gone much further, drafting a proposal to fundamentally overhaul the entire global financial system. In a market-shaking speech this March, China's chief economist proposed a new form of synthetic international reserve currency under the management of the IMF, which, he argued, would afford far greater global economic stability.
Despite his measured words, Zhou's well-publicized proposal and his critiques of U.S. economic planning have been interpreted as a sign of Beijing's growing confidence in its own financial prescriptions. Shortly afterward, Russia released its version of Zhou's plan, while U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said he was "quite open" to the idea. As if to prove Zhou's point, Geithner's off-the-cuff response quickly sent the dollar tumbling.
Wants to visit: Greenland
Best idea: G-20 summit, slowly developing the new architecture of world management.
Worst idea: Going back to the ideas of John Maynard Keynes.
Gadget: Facebook and iPhone.