Barry D. Wood, born in West Michigan in 1943, is a journalist, author and educator in Washington, D.C. He writes for RTHK in Hong Kong, USA Today and websites in South Africa. His book, Exploring New Europe, a journey through post-communist Europe, examines how ordinary people are coping with momentous change.
Barry’s interest in economics dates from five months in 1963 as a deck hand on a Swedish freighter transporting cargoes as diverse as logs, oil drilling rigs and Foster’s lager between North America and Australia. Later he twice arrived in Europe having worked as a waiter on transatlantic liners. He obtained BA and MA degrees in economics from Western Michigan University. Short-term study in Yugoslavia and Oxford widened a global perspective. He credits Oxford tutorials with launching a focus on clear communication.
An activist against the Vietnam war, he taught economics at Northern Michigan University and social science at Western Michigan. Seeking a broader palette, he moved to New York and Connecticut before sailing with his wife in 1974 to South Africa to write about the scourge of apartheid. They hurled their collection of banned books into the sea as the ship approached Cape Town.
His journalism began at the Financial Mail, a prestigious business weekly. During three years in South Africa he developed respect for the complexity of the country, to which he has been returning regularly since 2010. He witnessed the end of Portuguese colonialism in Africa, the Soweto uprising, and the guerrilla wars in Zimbabwe and Namibia. His first radio assignment was Mozambique independence for NBC News. In 1977 he was hired by Voice of America, departing South Africa the day black consciousness leader Steve Biko was murdered.
During three-decades at VOA Barry was chief economics correspondent and in the 1990s bureau chief in Prague reporting the uneven transition to free markets in post-communist Europe. He has interviewed leading decision makers including Ronald Reagan, Milton Friedman, Vaclav Havel, and Warren Buffett. He reported from more than 30 global summits and annual Davos gatherings of the World Economic Forum.
Since leaving VOA in 2009 he’s been a columnist at marketwatch.com, Huffington Post and the globalist.com. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, Financial Times, Barron’s, The International Economy, and other leading publications.
Barry D. Wood is a writer and broadcaster in Washington, D.C. He is the international economics correspondent for RTHK radio in Hong Kong and contributes to USA Today, The International Economy, and websites in Germany and South Africa. His recent focus has been Federal Reserve monetary policy and the protectionist trade measures of the Trump administration.
His first book, Exploring New Europe: A Bicycle Journey, is about people and places in 14 post-communist countries from Estonia to Albania.
A veteran foreign correspondent, in 2017 Barry reported from the Group of 20 leaders meeting in Hamburg, President Trump’s first foray into global summitry. Recent visits to the Silicon Valley resulted in a photo essay for USA Today on new headquarters buildings of Apple, Google and Facebook, and a presentation on technological innovation at the American Center in Prague He also reported from Detroit, South Africa and Zimbabwe. In 2016 he reported from the Group of 7 summit in Japan and wrote about Japan’s efforts to keep pace with a rising China for The International Economy .
In 2015 Barry cycled 250 miles from Long Beach, CA through Riverside, Palm Springs and Bythe to Phoenix, Arizona. Earlier he completed the 65-mile Cape Town Cycle Tour around Table Mountain. He has long pursued adventure, tempered by moderation and common sense.
For two-decades until 2009 Barry was chief economics correspondent at Voice of America, filing radio and television reports from over 60 countries. He participated in a dozen annual meetings of the World Economic Forum in Davos and reported from IMF/World Bank meetings and economic summits since 1980. Barry has been a fixture in the Omaha press room of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway annual meetings. He covered the first Apec (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit in 1993 . He reported from the 2013 summit in Durban of the BRICS countries–Brazil, Russia, India, China and 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.
From 1994 to 1997 Barry was the VOA correspondent in Prague with responsibility for covering the transition to market economies in Eastern Europe. He regularly spoke with the architects of transformation– Leszek Balcerowicz, Vaclav Klaus and Jeffrey Sachs. During the wars of Yugoslav succession he spent considerable time in Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania. He has written about the euro currency since its inception and is the recipient of VOA’s career achievement award. Twice he was a grantee at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars.
Barry’s account of America’s most scenic cross country train ride, Amtrak’s California Zephyr, appeared in USA Today in 2018. Earlier he wrote about journeys on the Coast Starlight and the Southwest Chief. He also wrote “Stegosaurus Rising,” about Santiago Calatrava’s acclaimed transit center at New York’s World Trade Center.
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 and was in Mozambique when it became independent. In June 1976 he reported from Soweto on the first day of the student uprising that is now a South African national holiday.
Notable interviews include Ronald Reagan, Warren Buffett, Milton Friedman, Vaclav Havel, James Baker, Jack Welch, Desmond Tutu, Jerry Garcia, playwright Athol Fugard, and former Federal Reserve vice-chairman Stanley Fischer. Barry co-anchored VOA’s live broadcast of President Reagan’s inauguration in 1981.
Barry taught economics at Northern Michigan University and social sciences at Western Michigan University where he co-founded the Urban Education Project, an integrated approach to teacher training. In 2011 and 2012 he was guest lecturer at Kingswood College, a boarding school in South Africa. He holds bachelors and masters degrees in economics from Western Michigan University. He completed month-long graduate seminars at Oxford University and in Yugoslavia.
At age 19 in San Francisco Barry joined the Swedish freighter Parrakoola as a deck hand and was aboard five months during its voyage to Australia and back. Later he was a steward on transatlantic crossings of Norwegian and Dutch passenger liners. In Stockholm he was a trainee in the foreign exchange department of Svenska Handelsbanken. He grew up in western Michigan and is a product of the Grand Rapids public schools.