Subversive Economics: Pervasive, Dangerous and Largely Invisible

The discussion about greyzone threats mostly focuses on easy-to-identify forms of aggression including cyber intrusions and disinformation campaigns. That’s a shame, because other forms are at least as dangerous. Subversive economics, for example. While Western countries benefit from their open borders and the commerce this generates, some countries exploit that openness to strengthen their geopolitical position while weakening that of the targeted countries. It involves buying up key companies and using venture-capital investments to access the best innovation early on. The challenge is, of course, that much of this looks just like regular business, and for years it was treated as such. Now, however, many Western governments including the UK are rushing to address with new legislation.

Elisabeth Braw is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where she focuses on defence and deterrence against greyzone threats. She is also a columnist with Foreign Policy, where she writes on national security and the globalised economy. Before joining AEI, Elisabeth was a senior research fellow at the RUSI, whose Modern Deterrence project she led. Prior to that, she worked at Control Risks, a global risk consultancy. Elisabeth is also a member of the steering committee of the Aurora Forum, a member of the UK National Preparedness Commission and an associate fellow at the European Leadership Network.

Elisabeth started her career as a journalist, reporting for Newsweek, the Christian Science Monitor and the international Metro group of newspapers, among others. She regularly writes op-eds, including for the Financial Times, Politico, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (writing in German) and the Wall Street Journal. She is also the author of God’s Spies, about the Stasi (Eerdmans, 2019) and The Defender’s Dilemma (forthcoming). Elisabeth attended university in Germany, graduating with a Magister Artium in political science and German literature.