The Global Leaders Forum speaker series presents Steve Strongin, Head of Global Investment Research, Goldman Sachs
March 4, 2016

“It is typically from our failures that we learn, not our visions,” according to Steve Strongin of Goldman Sachs.

In a conversation with the Johns Hopkins SAIS community, Strongin examined the gap between public policy intent and its impact, focusing on financial services and energy-related regulation. He also took a look at political, economic and social influences that can affect the outcomes of laws and regulations meant to help consumers. 

Strongin urged the audience to use a different way of approaching policy questions by spending a greater amount of time analyzing the strategy and why the intended results were not achieved. “When you begin to think about policy, it’s important to spend a lot of time on what has failed and why, and a little less time on the vision of hope for what those rules will accomplish,” Strongin said.

Strongin said most public policies are influenced by confirmation bias, or when people select a perception and find a set of facts to link up to that idea, which can often prompt errors and disadvantages. He provided examples of confirmation bias, including the advancement of batteries. Policies have improved the speed in which batteries can be charged, the amount of waste when it’s discarded, and the efficiency of its packaging. But despite those gains, Strongin said there have been zero improvements in a battery’s charge density. He said he’s hopeful a policy will achieve that one day.