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The Dalai Lama can have a profound impact — on the economy

Rob Schmitz Nov 9, 2010
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BOB MOON: Turns out Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, can have a profound impact — economically speaking. That’s according to a study on the financial consequences of his visits to 159 countries.

Marketplace’s China Bureau Chief Rob Schmitz reports.


ROB SCHMITZ: It turns out the bald, red-robed Nobel Peace Prize recipient is an economic downer wherever he goes. That’s thanks to China’s leaders. They fume each time they see the face of Tibetan independence sitting down with one of their trading partners.

NILS-HENDRIK KLANN: They usually say, in terms of economic retaliation, you’re just going to have to look what happens. It usually implies that people will have to look for some fallout in the future.

Economist Nils-Hendrik Klann helped author the study. He found that countries hosting the Dalai Lama lose, on average, eight percent of their trade with China in the two years following the visit. Klann says this “Dalai Lama Effect” sends a clear message about doing business with China.

KLANN: The way we interact among each other in terms of trade and diplomacy might not be the way that countries will interact in the future with these new rising economies.

The results, by the way, didn’t hold for every country. President Obama met with the Dalai Lama earlier this year, and it led to some good karma: U.S. exports to China are on track for a record-setting year.

In Shanghai, I’m Rob Schmitz, for Marketplace.

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