Trying to make sense of the global economic malaise and the policy decisions that might impact it? This speech by George P. Shultz, a former treasury secretary and head of the Office of Management and Budget, is a good place to start:

Shultz, who was speaking at a dinner in his honor as the non-partisan Economic Club of New York gave him its first Award of Leadership Excellence, gives a big-picture analysis on why our economic troubles have unfolded and what changes policymakers could implement to fix them.

Tax reform, he says, is the first place to start. He suggests we “clean out the preferences and lower the marginal tax rate” for both individuals and corporations. And he says our lawmakers should get more serious about reining in spending in the near-term.

“Ask not what a Congress 10 years from now will spend,” he quipped to laughs from the audience. “Ask what you will spend this year and next year and whether next year will be less than this year.”

He also criticizes the recent reliance on continuing resolutions to fund the government, stating plainly that the practice is “dumb.”

He proposes a few more policy prescriptions too, including rethinking Social Security and the new health-care law.

But Shultz does not just offer solutions, he outlines the complex factors that are influencing the health of the 21st-century economy. Demography, the technology and communication revolution, and the status quo of the nation-state system are just some of the topics he waxes eloquently about.

Check out Shultz’s speech and tell us in the comments section what you think of his remarks and his ideas.

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