The Times: Interview: Noreena Hertz

How frustrating to be brainy and gorgeous – will no one take Noreena Hertz seriously? With an economics bestseller under her belt and another book just out, it’s about time we did.

By Hannah Betts
Published: September 18, 2004

The fact that economist Noreena Hertz is extremely attractive is the least interesting thing about her. So let us get it out of the way straight off.

At 35, with a winning manner and a penchant for sharp dressing, Dr Hertz has attracted the kind of slathering press attention that has culminated in her being labelled “the Nigella Lawson of economics”. The sobriquet is particularly outlandish given that Noreena is a svelte, Julie Delpy-esque blonde whose girlishness is a million miles away from Ms Lawson’s magnificent cartoon womanliness.

The “dolly bird” coverage clearly bemuses Hertz. Yet she is canny enough to realise that with telegenic appeal comes huge opportunity. “If what it takes for issues that are literally issues of life and death to get coverage is for me to be this glam pastiche of a person,” she reasons, “well so be it.”

These issues of life and death involve the many inequities spawned by globalisation. Her first book, The Silent Takeover, a critique of multinational corporations, was an international bestseller, transforming its author into the UK’s anti-globalisation poster-don: “Britain’s Naomi Klein” when she wasn’t being economics’ Ms Lawson. Her latest, I.O.U.: The Debt Threat and Why We Must Defuse It, is a trenchant study of Third World debt: how it happened, whom it hurts, and how this beleaguered portion of the globe may end up biting the hand that refuses to feed it.

Read the rest of this interview on the Times online website