Global leaders, Bill Gates, and the future of 5G

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Dear Quartz members—

Starting Tuesday, world leaders and diplomats from 193 countries gather at the United Nations headquarters in New York for the 74th annual session of the General Assembly. While the media will no doubt be vying to capture headline-worthy sidebar meetings—will President Trump meet with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani?—the assembled VIPs have a veritable laundry list of issues to address. These range from climate change—have countries kept to the commitments they made to cut emissions under the 2016 Paris Climate Accord—to the unprecedented flow of migrants crisscrossing the globe and the seemingly intractable problem of inequality.

A team of Quartz reporters will be closely monitoring developments and will write a special edition of the Daily Brief Tuesday through Friday (which you can receive by signing up here.)

Also next week, reporter Annalisa Merelli will join geopolitics editor Pete Gelling live from the UN for an exclusive conference call with members, which you can join at our usual location. (More call-in options are noted toward the bottom of this email.)


One voice in the debate over global inequality is the Gates Foundation, which released a data-filled report this week chronicling how your place of birth and gender still have the greatest impact on the opportunities available to you over the course of your life.

Bill Gates weighed in on a couple of other looming issues recently in an interview with Quartz editor in chief Kevin Delaney. For one, he’s not fully sold on a view recently articulated by top American executives that corporations have a primary responsibility to employees, customers, and society, alongside stockholders—and not just shareholders.

Channeling his good friend, Warren Buffett, he argues for companies not to lose focus on their financial performance, for that is a basic prerequisite for companies to be able to do anything else. “Its ability to exist,” he says, “and hire people and pay their salaries is based on a certain financial strength.”

And he takes a particularly dim view of economists’ ability to know what’s going on in the economy. In a world of negative interest rates and looming global recession, the macroeconomy has so many moving parts that figuring out how they all interrelate leads to all sorts of disagreements among economists about what’s actually happening.

Some leading economists among Quartz readers agreed.

  • Ivan Werning, economics professor at MIT commented: “Agree with Gates and the article’s excellent elaboration of it. There are degrees and degrees of ignorance; you can call that knowledge too.”
  • And Ricardo Reis, a leading macroeconomist who lectures at the London School of Economics, noted simply in response that, “Macro is hard.”


The fifth generation of wireless has arrived. An estimated 10 million mobile subscribers will be using 5G before the year is out, and the world will spend upwards of $1 trillion to build more 5G networks. But what will we gain from the most expensive mobile infrastructure project in global history? For most of us, the answer to that question is far from clear.

Our newest presentation for members cuts through the hype to lay out what 5G really means for the future. It offers an overview of a field guide we will publish next week, by senior reporter Gwynn Guilford, that will take you through 5G’s revolutionary potential, as well as its very real limitations—from a network that barely exists, to devices that have not yet been invented.

You can find the presentation here or download a PDF version or the PowerPoint file. It’s one of an ongoing series of presentations we’ve created for members.


Quartz conference calls today and next week:

  • At 11am ET today, join our entrepreneur-in-residence Khe Hy to discuss the newest crop of productivity apps, from “to do” systems to efficient ways to take notes and take control of your email inbox.
  • Next Thursday, Sept. 26, at noon ET, technology editor Mike Murphy will discuss Amazon’s latest product roll out as it seeks to maintain its strong footing in the smart-home market.
  • And on Friday at 11am ET, Gwynn Guilford will take your questions on the future of 5G.

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In our upcoming membership field guide on the future of aviation, travel and tourism reporter Natasha Frost will be exploring why air travel is at a tipping point, what the in-cabin experience will be like in the years to come, and how data will change how we fly. If you’ve got any questions you’d like her to address in the guide, please get in touch at

With best wishes for a relaxing and thought-provoking weekend.


Xana Antunes
Executive editor, Quartz