I am often asked what is the “mood” of Davos? I always find this question hard to answer – possibly because it is meaningless. However, after four days in the Congress Centre, or trudging from hotel to hotel, I do have a fairly sure grasp of this year’s preferred clichés at the World Economic Forum. Read more
Davos is full of security barriers and screening to keep out intruders who might threaten the world’s leaders of governments and companies, but one managed to sneak through without a badge – the common cold.
By the end of the week of events at the World Economic Forum, many of the attendees were complaining of a streaming nose, a cough, and a nasty headache. The “Davos apocalyptic cold” was how one sufferer described it darkly. Read more
You cannot book an Uber car in Davos. That is no surprise, given that most World Economic Forum delegates prefer to take their own chauffeured limousines or the WEF’s free shuttle service. More surprising is the absence of Uber the company. I have heard it cited constantly this week – both in formal sessions and in informal conversations between participants – as an example of disruptive innovation. Uber also seems to have fielded a representative for every conference I’ve attended over the past past year. Not this one.
I moderated a fascinating debate on corporate governance on Saturday on the following question: Has shareholder value maximisation failed as a source of long-term wealth creation and social benefit? Before starting the debate, I asked for a vote on the question. At that stage 70 per cent voted “Yes” and 30 per cent voted “No”. So the overwhelming majority voted that shareholder value maximisation had indeed failed. This was astonishing, I thought, given the nature of the participants in Davos. Read more
Holding the World Economic Forum in a ski resort in the Alps sounds like an eccentric decision. In fact, the choice of Davos as a location for the WEF is very clever. It is such a pain to get here that once the delegates are in Davos, they feel compelled to stay. If the WEF took place in a big city, there would be a lot more flitting in-and-out. Read more
If you want to get a sense of where power is shifting in the business world, tracking the Davos parties is a good place to start. A decade
ago it was the banking bashes which were the glitziest and coolest gigs in town. On Friday night, however, the hottest ticket in Davos was a midnight party organised by Salesforce. Read more
Davos likes a powerful newcomer. At her debut public session on Friday, Mary Barra, chief executive of General Motors since last January, projected exactly the profile of diverse, confident, innovative leadership that the World Economic Forum promotes, even though much of the corporate world (and therefore the Davos summit itself) is still plagued by time-serving, overpaid and unimaginative white men in suits.
She wooed the half-hour session by revealing which GM cars were in her driveway (a Camaro and “as the mother of two teenagers”, an Escalade), laying out how she would keep job-hopping younger staff at GM (“make sure they have career development and meaningful work”), and reminding the audience of her own one-company loyalty. “Others have described me as a ‘car girl’,” she said, correcting the interviewer’s implication that she uses that epithet herself. She prefers to say she’s “a person who loves vehicles”.
But Ms Barra’s first year was dominated by a recalls fiasco, and her future looks even more challenging. “We think there’s going to be more change in the next five to 10 years as there has been in the last 50,” she said.
Once again, I attended a small dinner of “friends of Europe”. We enjoyed a lively discussion of a number of recent and prospective policy decisions. And, again, we had a series of votes.
Here are the questions and the results of the votes. (Not everybody voted on all issues.) The answers suggest, most significantly, continued informed nervousness about the future of the eurozone, despite recent action by the ECB. Read more
Regulation is needed in the global art market because it is vulnerable to money laundering, tax evasion, trading on inside information and price manipulation, an FT Weekend lunch in Davos was told. Read more
I’ll say one thing about Chinese chief executives: they have a more colourful back-story than most of the developed world executives at Davos.
Ren Zhengfei, elusive founder of Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications group, made a rare public appearance at the World Economic Form on Thursday, in a one-on-one interview. Read more
The proposals by David Cameron, the UK prime minister, to criminalise forms of encryption that would block intelligence services from reading messages from terrorist suspects have been criticised in Davos by a group of Harvard professors. Read more
There is no doubt what the big issue is at the World Economic Forum on Thursday – the European Central Bank decision on quantitative easing.
An early panel with a largely-US cast list was supposed to discuss the likely rise in US interest rates this year from zero. The panel was titled “ending the experiment”. But the experiment of trying to get people to talk about anything other than Europe lasted, according to my calculations, about 10 minutes. The rest of the hour was devoted to Europe and whether QE would work. Read more
Welcome to the FT’s rolling coverage of the 2015 World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos. Our correspondents will provide updates, insights and analysis over the coming days.
By Orla Ryan
Five minutes into Davos and I’m already sick of the word “context”. The organisers – in their unwisdom – have decreed that the theme for this year’s forum is the “New Global Context”.
The main effect of this is that every session seems obliged to have either the word “new” or the word “context” in its title – preferably both. So this morning we have an enticing choice between “the new energy context”, “the new digital context”, “the new growth context” and “the new China context”. Read more
By Gideon Rachman
Faced with a dangerous political threat, governments the world over tend to place their faith in the same magic medicine – economic growth. When world leaders try to address the roots of terrorism, for example, they instinctively assume that prosperity and jobs must be the long-term answer. And when a regional conflict threatens to get out of control – in east Asia or the Middle East – the standard political response is to call for greater economic integration. From Europe to China, governments place their faith in economic growth as the key to political and social stability.
Gideon Rachman has written about his encounters with a barking dog at Davos lovingly owned by Russian concert pianist and composer Lera Auerbach. In a talk on the last day at the World Economic Forum she gave some insights into the creative process and how she balances her talents which include painting, sculpture and poetry. Whether her dog helps this process she didn’t make clear.
And perhaps business people could learn from her approach. As she tours regularly as a concert pianist she said it was imperative to create an “inner silence” under any conditions. Artists, she admitted, are excellent at making excuses not to work – Wagner insisted on silk underwear to compose. So she didn’t allow the frenetic pace of Davos to become her excuse and scribbled a few lines of music each evening she was there. This “inner silence” is the only way we can truly find ourselves and create, she says. In her hideaway house she owns in Florida a sign on her door says, “GET AWAY FROM HERE”. Read more
hitandrun / www.hitandrunmedia.com
By Peter Chapman
With the global youth-to-adult unemployment ratio at its peak, and inequality one of the themes at Davos last week, the FT looks at the questions raised by youth unemployment, as well as solutions to it, in this Special Report.
Will the world’s lack of jobs drive the under-25s to violence and extremism? Do children, meanwhile, make easy targets for the global slave trade, and why is it that teenagers face greater bullying and violence over their sexual orientation?
Business often points the finger at government over the need to tackle the mismatch between qualifications and jobs but could it be doing more to confront the matter itself? Certainly German companies like BMW are bringing the benefit of apprenticeships to US states like South Carolina.
We have examined this and more in our Investing in Young People report.
What do you think must be done to prevent a lost generation of young people? Please share your comments with us below. Read more
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.
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.