It has taken just six weeks for the arrest of a fruit-and-vegetable seller in Tunisia to spark a chain of events that now threatens to topple the government of Egypt. Watching the revolt against autocracy spread across the Arab world is exciting, uplifting – and also deeply alarming for the world’s major powers, all of which are, in different ways, fond of the status quo.
As many depart on Saturday morning (including myself), time for assessment of my Davos 2011 four day experience. Read more
Over the last couple of days delegates have been following the unfolding events in Egypt and Yemen and speculating on the wider significance across the region. I saw one man carrying his laptop open down the snowy street watching the news. Last night at Bono’s One party an earnest young Iranian American woman told me why she was convinced this was a tipping point for the whole region. Read more
There are times when even “masters of the universe” are reduced to impotent silence. I spent yesterday in the bubble of the Davos convention centre, talking to political and business leaders. Almost to a man, they seemed virtually oblivious to the dramatic events unfolding in Egypt. Read more
I know there is a tendency to hear what you want to, and I’m clearly not disinterested, but it does seem possible that inequality and dealing with the world’s wrongs may have broken through the side-events into the mainstream this afternoon. Read more
Another day, another embattled prime minister. As kick-off time approached the crowd for David Cameron was smaller than Sarkozy’s, but Our Man didn’t empty the room with his As to Qs, as Sarkozy had done. He fielded the questions himself, they weren’t planted (or didn’t seem to be), so in the second half England edged ahead. As was evident last year, with the Davos audience Cameron has a certain je ne sais quoi. Read more
Mood. The improvement in optimism at Davos is palpable from last year, as I argued before. Interestingly, the group showing the greatest caution seems to be the CEOs of non-financial corporates. My experience over the years is that these people are a lagging indicator. What drives them is their recent performance. However, there seems to me to be a real return of confidence among bankers, who are back in force. That does make me quite nervous. Read more
Technology generally and social media specifically are pervasive in every session. The majority of entrepreneurs I talk to here have, in the last few years, grown huge global businesses usually in complicated layered relationships with other tech providers. Read more
In a special edition of the podcast, we assess the significance of the demonstrations in Egypt, the threat they pose to the ruling regime and the implications for dynastic succession in the Arab world. Read more
Overall economists seem more optimistic than ceos – probably a good sign, given the fact that boards, non-executive directors and chairmen and ceos are so cautious post-Lehman. Good the operators are keeping their powder a little dry. Read more
So, what are people worrying about about? Mainly how to get to their next meeting in time! A little ironic in a place that is meant to be about shared reflection and thought-leadership. Missing the big picture while scurrying after the immediate opportunity could even be a metaphor for “the state of the world” that it is WEF’s mission to improve. Read more
Medvedev was the star turn on Wednesday, though he shared the limelight with his iPad. Today it is Sarkozy, who dressed down subtly in a pair of grey slacks and a blue jacket. After 24 hours we are still in search of the New Reality – the Conference mission this year – but when we find it, it will certainly be dressed in snappy business casual. Read more
Last night I went to a dinner on geo-politics - and witnessed a strange and interesting conversation on the possibility of war between America and China. I was invited to start the discussion, by describing some of the themes of my book, Zero-Sum Future, which comes out in the US next week. (It’s been out a couple of months in the UK, already.) There were senior members of the American and Chinese foreign-policy establishments on hand to comment. Read more
I have, as usual, succeeded in spending a day in Davos without attending a single public session. But I have managed to speak to several interesting people about the world economy. Read more
While China has been dominating the news in the run up to this week’s event in Davos, it’s India that has been dominating my inbox. I, and presumably all the other delegates, have been invited to what must add up to a full schedule of colourful Indian networking events promoting India’s prowess in everything from cars to technology to music. India obviously sees an opportunity to influence “decision makers”. Meanwhile, I hope there will be a chance to influence India’s elite to do more to stop the needless deaths of 1.7 million children in India every year – the highest in any country. Read more
The World Economic Forum enjoys the conceit that, for a week, the world centres around Davos. But, this year, this is obviously not true. There are big events elsewhere in the world and the Davosites, like everybody else, are watching them on TV: terrorism in Moscow, the state-of-the-union in Washington and what looks like an incipient revolution in Egypt.
Events on the streets of Cairo meant that this afternoon’s session on security issues was packed out. That is because one of the participants was Amre Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League and a former foreign minister of Egypt. The bad news is that I am not allowed to report what Moussa said. The good news is that he actually said nothing worth reporting, so it’s no great loss. If this is the calibre of political leadership on offer, I can see why Egypt is in trouble. Read more
Outside the Conference centre Davos looks as pretty as a picture. Inside, it’s a different matter.
One rhetorical trope which never fails to irritate is the trite observation that “now is not the time for complacency”. Nods all round the room. I have often thought it would be provocative, for once, to hear a speaker say that today, indeed, is the perfect moment to be complacent, to relax one’s guard, and to engage in a comforting bout of self-congratulation. Read more
This year’s Davos started with the wrong sort of bang, as the Domodedovo bomb kept President Medvedev at home and deprived the conference of its first star turn. With the continuing uncertainty about who will stand for the presidency in Moscow next year, there was unusual interest in how he performed. We shall see if he is able to reschedule later in the week. That would create a logistical challenge for Klaus Schwab and his team. Read more
On my way to Davos and the WEF from Miami and NATPE (conference). Different weather and scenery, but there are similarities.
The WEF Chinese delegation will total over 60 people this year and the Indian will again be significant with 130 delegates. India will be launching an India Inclusive campaign to stress the benefits of economic progress and the growth of a vibrant middle-class and average incomes, while minimising the political impact of increasing disparities in wealth, as the new entrepreneurs of India globalise their operations – Tata, Ambanis, Mittals, Mahindra, Bhartis, Godrejs are all names we are becoming increasingly familiar with on a world stage. Chinese participation is up fivefold in the last decade, Indian up fourfold. Read more
Somebody at the FT suggested that I come up with some tips for surviving Davos. I hesitated initially, because anything written about Davos risks sounding repellently smug. Any list is also bound to be personal and idiosyncratic. But, on further reflection, I do think that long(ish) experience of going to Davos has given me a few ideas about how to approach this strange event. Read more