Daily Archives: January 24, 2014

I had hoped that my 25th trip to Davos would be marked by the award of a silver fondu set, at the very least. No such luck. The only prize is to be asked yet again to work on “reshaping the world”, this year’s theme.

That degree of repeat offending suggests either an astonishing inability to learn from experience, or some residual belief that the exercise is indeed worthwhile. Whether the state of the world has been improved over the 44 years the World Economic Forum has existed is a moot point: it depends on the hand you have been dealt. Chinese princelings, whether on the strength at JP Morgan or not, would no doubt tick the box; Syrian refugees, whose plight is firmly on this year’s agenda, would beg to differ. Read more >>

There are many party games to play at Davos. Some work better than others. The fashion now, perhaps driven by the success of TED conferences, is for strictly time-limited interventions, as short as possible. One economic historian was asked to summarise the development of the global monetary system over the last 150 years, and forecast the future of the dollar, the renminbi and the euro out to 2030 – all in three minutes. Actually he made a more than decent stab at it, but others, who may well have something interesting to say, have barely cleared their throats before the bar comes down.

One innovation in the last few years which does work well is the so-called Ideaslab. I approached this with trepidation when asked to lead one a couple of years ago. Again, each presentation must be three minutes, no more, no less, and is accompanied by a slideshow of related images – not charts and graphs – which the speaker cannot control in any way. It’s a Swiss version of the BBC radio panel game “Just a Minute”: no hesitation, deviation or repetition allowed. Read more >>

Lionel Barber

I arrived in VIP-full Davos with one prediction in mind: 2014 will be the year the world returns to normality or at least the semblance of normality with the tapered exit from quantitative easing.

After three days at high altitude, the prediction is intact and I have five other takeaways. Read more >>

Bono has joined forces with Bank of America at the World Economic Forum to announce an initiative to put millions of dollars into tackling Aids. Senior FT columnist Gillian Tett on why she expects to see more companies embark on such initiatives to improve tarnished images.

Martin Wolf

At a debate in Davos Joseph Nye, the American political scientist, asked the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, what he felt about the comments of the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe on Sino-Japanese relations earlier in the week and especially the parallel Mr Abe drew between the pre-world war one relationships in Europe and those between China and Japan today.

These were Mr Yang’s key points in reply: Read more >>

On the third day of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Lionel Barber, FT editor, reflects on how the Argentine peso’s fall has impacted the consensus at the meeting that the world is returning to normality.

One of the World Economic Forum annual meeting’s core themes this week has been climate change, something those of us arriving in Switzerland from Australia have certainly experienced. Here in Davos you’re lucky to get out of single figures during the day, and night-time temperatures plummet below freezing. Last week, Cost Centre #2, who is staying on in Australia for part of his gap year, posted a picture on Facebook with the caption, “I am not built for 46C.”

Nor am I, so planning my wardrobe was especially difficult. I made sure to change planes in London, specifically to collect my fur coat and walking boots, but what else to wear? My guidance to other female delegates has always been to pack that staple of every working woman’s wardrobe: the black trouser suit. And especially if you are going to be on a platform during one of the debates.

FT economics editor Chris Giles examines statements by Bank of England governor Mark Carney, that interest rates are likely to remain below historical norms and looks at possible changes to “forward guidance” policy.

There may be clouds over emerging markets and plenty of blue-sky talk coming out of the World Economic Forum in Davos. But just check how clear the airspace above the Swiss town looks as delegates break for lunch.

Andrew Hill

Matthieu Ricard (c) WEF

I’ve been to happier meetings on glummer subjects than the Davos dinner I joined on Thursday about “The Importance of Happiness” .

Perhaps it was the presence of a trio of dismal scientists as discussion leaders – Harvard’s Michael Porter, Columbia’s Jeff Sachs and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz – that cast a pall. At any rate, their thoughts on how to measure happiness did little to lighten the mood.

There was one great burst of wisdom, however, from Matthieu Ricard, the French-born geneticist turned Buddhist monk, who brought some much-needed colour to the debate. Could it be, one delegate asked, that the more you know, the less contented you are? Read more >>