Insurance Exec Greenberg Praises U.S., China Leaders

May 23, 2007
Exclusive Video Interview

Former President Richard Nixon had a great grasp of foreign affairs and Bill Clinton was a fast learner.

Those are among the opinions of recent world leaders offered by Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, current chairman of C.V. Starr & Co., as part of a wide-ranging interview with Insurance Journal’s Andrew Simpson at the recent Target Markets Program Administrators Association Meeting in Atlanta.

Greenberg, former chairman of American International Group and a pioneer in opening China and other foreign markets to U.S. insurers, was asked which world leaders he has known have impressed him. His answer was bipartisan.

“Oh, there are many. I think in our country most presidents have great qualities. I knew Nixon quite well and I was a great admirer of his. His grasp of foreign policy was uncanny. He had weaknesses but he had great strengths,” the insurance executive said.

He also singled out several other recent presidents.

“I think President Clinton was a very articulate and fast learner. I think the first President Bush was a fine leader in a different way. President Bush today has some great qualities. He has got a lot of problems but every president that we’ve had is an unusual person,” Greenberg added.

His praise was not confined to U.S. leaders, as he expressed particular admiration for China’s Jiang Zemin, who was the president of China, and Zhu Rongji, who was the premier of China, in the prior administration, describing them as “outstanding leaders.”

“Deng Xiao-ping, who was the first one I met, will go down in history as the father of opening China to the outside world. The implementation by Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji just couldn’t be better,” said Greenberg.

He said China’s current leadership, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, are “doing an outstanding job,” noting they have an “awesome job” trying to improve the lot of their country’s 1.3 billion people.

“They have lifted 300 million people out of poverty. They have 900 million more to go. It is an awesome job,” Greenberg commented.

“If you go around the world, I have met many of the leaders in Europe and in Japan, Russia, each one being somewhat different. But it’s part of the job.”

Watch Greenberg’s comments on world leaders.

Watch the complete 37-minute video interview.

An edited print version of the interview can also be found in the May 21, 2007 issue of Insurance Journal magazine.

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