Welcome to the FT’s rolling coverage of the World Economic Forum. By Esther Bintliff and Claire Jones in London, with contributions from FT editors and writers in Davos.
18.30 That’s it for day 1 of our Davos rolling blog.
The eurozone crisis dominated proceedings, but Merkel’s speech was a bit of a let-down by most accounts, notably Martin Wolf’s (see post at 17.25).
Income inequality was another talking point – see posts at 13.45 and 15.00 and Gillian Tett’s blog here.
This evening delegates can catch a screening of “The Lady” with director Luc Besson, find out their social network status, or share a nightcap with “the princess of Africa”, singer and president of the Princess of Africa Foundation Yvonne Ntombizodwa Chaka Chaka.
Join us again tomorrow at 07.30 when we’ll bring you more trenchant analysis, quotes (both vacuous and profound), and hats from the slopes of Davos.
18.11 A tip from the FT’s banking editor Patrick Jenkins: if you’re going to Davos never book a hotel in Klosters. Read more
When the World Economic Forum published its annual risk assessment report earlier this month, it featured a fascinating detail: for the first time ever, the issue of “income disparity” featured on the list of risks that WEF members expected to see this year.
More startling, this risk actually topped the list, beating out issues such as financial collapse, fiscal crisis or environmental issues. Welcome to a theme that I expect to crop up repeatedly in debate this week in Davos.
As the annual WEF meeting gets underway, the Occupy Wall Street movement has not yet stormed any cocktail parties (although I am told that protesters have built an igloo). But the issue of social and political protest is creeping into debate, even amid the canapés and wine. Read more
Among the attendees will be some of the world’s most powerful, most wealthy, and most learned men and women. Yet their collective profile could hardly be at a lower ebb. If Davos Man walked, his pinstripe suit would surely be tattered, his bowler hat squashed, his nose a little bloodied. Read more
A year ago, Barack Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address contained a laboured gag about salmon being regulated by a different US government agency when they were in the sea to when they swam into fresh water. This bureaucratic horror story was related to plug the idea of reorganising the agencies that regulate and promote trade. When that proposal finally saw the light of day this month, it managed a rare bipartisan achievement of uniting Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill in opposition. Read more
The Arab League seems to have had a testosterone rush. This was an organisation that used to be a byword for caution and hypocrisy. It was good for a stern statement on Israel, and little else. Yet, suddenly, here we have the League calling for regime change in Syria, followed by a peaceful transition to democracy. It is also taking its demands to the UN Security Council. So what is going on? Read more
Mitt Romney had a bad day yesterday. A slew of new polls in South Carolina which votes on Saturday, show that Romney has fallen behind Newt Gingrich. If Romney wins the first test in the South, the nomination would effectively be his. But if he loses, the race is still on. Then it was announced that a re-count shows that Romney actually came second in the Iowa caucus to Rick Santorum – damaging the notion that he is sweeping all before him. On Thursday, too, Rick Perry dropped out of the race – which means that the conservative vote will now only be split two ways, between Santorum and Gingrich. Finally, the day ended with a television debate in South Carolina. And that didn’t go too well for Romney either. Read more
James Blitz, diplomatic editor, Javier Blas, commodities editor, and Roula Khalaf, Middle East editor, join Shawn Donnan to discuss the growing tensions between Iran and the west as the EU prepares an oil embargo. Read more
In his third video on the US 2012 presidential election campaign, FT columnist Edward Luce comments on the Republican nomination race from South Carolina, the next primary state. He says the conservative candidates, above all Newt Gingrich, are scrambling to prevent favourite Mitt Romney from clinching victory.
William Hague travels this week to Brazil; the UK foreign secretary wants to curry favour and, more importantly, greater trade with Latin America’s rising powers. “Britain is coming back,” he says. “We are turning around decades of British withdrawal in Latin America.”
What a shame, then, that next door in Argentina much of British diplomacy has literally slipped back into the semaphore age – at least when it comes to the Falklands/Malvinas issue. Read more
Gideon became chief foreign affairs columnist for the Financial Times in July 2006. He joined the FT after a 15-year career at The Economist, which included spells as a foreign correspondent in Brussels, Washington and Bangkok. He also edited The Economist’s business and Asia sections.
His particular interests include American foreign policy, the European Union and globalisation