Moisés Naím is the former executive director of the World Bank, the former editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy, and was Venezuela’s minister of trade and industry in the early 1990s. An internationally syndicated columnist and a senior associate in the International Economics Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, he is the author most recently of The End of Power. Before talking about why power isn’t what it used to be, he sat down in the Zócalo green room to confess to the weirdest item in his medicine cabinet (a stone that stops shaving cuts from bleeding), the last law he broke (texting while driving), and what it takes to embarrass him (watching himself on TV).
What’s the last law you broke?
Ah! Texting while driving.
What are the first and last sections of the newspaper you read?
The first one is the headlines. And the last one … I am very scattered. I don’t know which one is the last one because there’s not a pattern. I read it on the Web. I start with the headlines, and I’m high-distraction, so I end up in the weirdest places. Once you start clicking—you start with a headline, it takes you to an interesting hyperlink that takes you to another. ... When you see yourself an hour later, you are in the middle of something you never imagined you’d be reading at that time in the morning.
What’s the strangest thing in your medicine cabinet?
Some kind of a stone that someone gave me that, when you cut yourself while shaving, that stone—which has a name I don’t remember now—helps you stop the bleeding.
If you had to lose one of your senses, which would you choose?
I would negotiate that to the end—that’s non-negotiable, I don’t want to lose any of my senses, so I’ll fight to the death. Not accepting the premise. The answer is: all or nothing. I either lose all of them or none of them. So, death or everything.
Who’s your favorite Roman emperor?
What embarrasses you?
Seeing myself on television.
Hot, medium, or mild?
What trashy TV do you watch?
All of it. I’m a super-trashy TV watcher.
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
That includes sneakers? [Yes.] More than 10.
If you could have any superpower, which would you choose?
Invisibility. Because I’m very curious, and I would sneak into places just to learn what people are doing or saying.