This is my second annual letter. The focus of this year’s letter is innovation and how it can make the difference between a bleak future and a bright one.
2009 was the first year my full-time work was as co-chair of the foundation, along with Melinda and my dad. It’s been an incredible year and I enjoyed having lots of time to meet with the innovators working on some of the world’s most important problems. I got to go out and talk with people making progress in the field, ranging from teachers in
The global recession hit hard in 2009 and is a huge setback. The neediest suffer the most in a downturn. 2009 started with no one knowing how long the financial crisis would last and how damaging its effects would be. Looking back now, we can say that the market hit a bottom in March and that in the second half of the year the economy stopped shrinking and started to grow again. I talked to Warren Buffett, our co-trustee, more than ever this year to try to understand what was going on in the economy.
Although the acute financial crisis is over, the economy is still weak, and the world will spend a lot of years undoing the damage, which includes lingering unemployment and huge government deficits and debts at record levels. Later in the letter I’ll talk more about the effects of these deficits on governments’ foreign aid budgets. Despite the tough economy, I am still very optimistic about the progress we can make in the years ahead. A combination of scientific innovations and great leaders who are working on behalf of the world’s poorest people will continue to improve the human condition.