Barry D. Wood is a columnist and Washington-based commentator on markets and the economy for RTHK radio in Hong Kong. His focus is how globalization impacts people. He also contributes to marketwatch.com, USA Today, and moneyweb.com in South Africa.
Continuing a long career as a foreign correspondent, in 2015 he reported from Hong Kong, Germany, Macedonia, the G20 summit in Turkey, and Cuba. In 2016 he reported from California’s Silicon Valley, New York City, the Carrier plant in Indiana, and the G7 summit in Ise Shima, Japan. His account of traveling on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight appeared in USA Today on February 29th, 2016, a follow on to his piece traveling on the Southwest Chief between Chicago and LA. He has covered Berkshire Hathaway annual meetings in Omaha since 2011.
For two-decades Barry was chief economics correspondent at Voice of America, filing radio and television reports from over 60 countries. His first radio broadcast was for NBC News on June 25th, 1975 from Mozambique when the Portuguese colony was declared independent. Barry has participated in a dozen meetings of the World Economic Forum in Davos. He has reported from IMF/World Bank meetings since 1978 and from G7, G8, and G20 summits since 1980. He reported from the first Asia Pacific (APEC) summit in 1993 and the 2013 BRICS summit in Durban, South Africa. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, New York Times, Financial Times, Barron’s, The International Economy, Europe, South China Morning Post and Los Angeles Times, He has twice been a guest on C-SPAN, including a 1998 analysis of the planned € currency.
From 1994 to 1997 Barry was the VOA correspondent in Prague, chronicling the transition from communism to market economies in Eastern Europe. He interviewed the leading architects of transition including Leszek Balcerowicz, Vaclav Klaus and Jeffrey Sachs. During the wars of Yugoslav succession he reported extensively from Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania. He has written about the euro currency since its creation. He is the recipient of VOA’s career achievement award and has twice been a grantee at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars in Washington.
Barry began journalism in South Africa as a correspondent for the Financial Mail in Johannesburg and later for NBC News. He covered the liberation wars in Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola. On June 16, 1976 he was in Soweto on the first day of the student uprising. After three years in southern Africa he joined VOA in Washington.
Notable interviews include Ronald Reagan, Warren Buffett, Milton Friedman, Vaclav Havel, James Baker, Jack Welch, Desmond Tutu, Jerry Garcia, playwright Athol Fugard, quality control guru W. Edwards Deming, and economist Stanley Fischer. He co-anchored from the US Capitol VOA’s live global broadcast of President Reagan’s inauguration. During the 1987 Wall Street crash, he was frequently interviewed by RTHK radio in Hong Kong, the beginning of an enduring professional affiliation.
Barry has journeyed 2,500 miles by bicycle through 15 countries in Eastern Europe from Estonia to Albania. His account of that adventure, Exploring New Europe: A Bicycle Journey is being published in early 2017. In 2015 he rode all but 80-miles of the 450-mile distance from Long Beach, CA to Phoenix.
Barry’s first career was teaching. He was instructor of economics at Northern Michigan University and of social science at Western Michigan University. Earlier he taught history and government in the Kalamazoo public schools. In 2011 and 2012 he was a guest lecturer at Kingswood College in Grahamstown, South Africa. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from Western Michigan University and participated in month-long graduate seminars at Oxford University and in Yugoslavia.
At age 19 Barry joined the Swedish freighter Parrakoola as a deck hand, a job he held for five months while the ship sailed from San Francisco to Australia and back. Later he had summer jobs as a waiter for transatlantic crossings of the Norwegian liner Oslofyord and Dutch liner Statendam. In 1965 he was a trainee in the foreign exchange department of Svenska Handelsbanken in Stockholm. Barry grew up in Michigan and is a product of the Grand Rapids public schools.