News that François Hollande had a meeting recently with Peter Hartz, architect of Germany’s labour market reforms of a decade ago, has caused a frisson in Paris where all the talk (apart from that about his love life) is about the president’s public embrace of social democratic reforms with a distinctly German flavour.
The Elysée Palace denied reports that Mr Hartz, who led former chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s landmark reform programme, was acting as an adviser to Mr Hollande.
But it acknowledged that the president had hosted the former Volkswagen executive for an hour-long informal meeting two months ago. 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
According to the Kübler-Ross model, there are five stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Jamie Dimon still seems a long way from acceptance.
The JPMorgan Chase chairman and chief executive waded into controversy again at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday by saying that the $20bn legal costs the US bank has paid for alleged wrongdoing before the financial crisis were “unfair”. Read more
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe did not shy away from discussing the tensions with China in his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Lifen Zhang, editor-in-chief of FTChinese.com, examines the reaction of Chinese delegates and journalists.
By Joe Leahy in São Paulo
Team Brazil began its charm offensive in Davos on Thursday with Finance Minister Guido Mantega reasserting the primary role in global economic growth of the so-called Brics, which also include Russia, India, China and South Africa. Read more
FT editor Lionel Barber on why Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani wants to end Iran’s isolation and why he might be the leader that the west could do business with.
One of the excitements of being a Davos delegate is when you are presented with all your kit at the beginning of the forum, including the distinctive World Economic Forum black shoulder bag. How useful, how prestigious – you think.
However, in my experience, it is a potentially disastrous error actually to use this must-have fashion accessory.
The reason is that there are thousands of other identical bags in circulation. As delegates move in and out of the Congress Centre, and to and from parties – perhaps even consuming alcohol – the potential for confusion is massive.
I witnessed an alarming example of this problem at the party last night to launch the World Post, a new internet based magazine. At the coat-check queue, I encountered an eminent American academic, looking a little flustered. Somebody had made off with her Davos bag, presumably mistaking it for their own hold-all. Worse, the professor’s bag contained her passport, her hotel key and her computer. Under the circumstances, she seemed admirably cool. When I left, she was still rummaging hopelessly among the discarded coats. Read more
Just sometimes, you encounter somebody or something that shatters your preconceptions of Davos.
I attended a private dinner on Wednesday that had all the Davos elements: a star co-host (“theatrical journalist” Tina Brown), a big business backer (Credit Suisse), and a cast of A-listers – Matt Damon, this year’s World Economic Forum celebrity, came for cocktails, Sir Richard Branson and George Osborne stayed for dinner, Cherie Blair dropped by for dessert.
The theme was the annual celebration of powerful and important women, many of whom were present.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (c) Getty Images
But it was the women honoured who made the evening truly extraordinary. Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala recounted her effort to reform the African country’s economy (as she likes to point out “when you fight corruption, corruption fights back”).
But even she was outshone, in my view, by the campaigning 25-year-old Pakistani Khalida Brohi, and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, the award-winning filmmaker who has documented Ms Brohi’s brave efforts to improve the lives of Pakistani women. Read more
(c) Getty Images
Here at Davos, I’ve just had the opportunity to moderate a discussion between the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and a group of international journalists. I asked Mr Abe whether a war between China and Japan was “conceivable”.
Interestingly, he did not take the chance to say that any such conflict was out of the question. In fact, Mr Abe explicitly compared the tensions between China and Japan now to the rivalry between Britain and Germany in the years before the first world war, remarking that it was a “similar situation”.
The comparison, he explained, lies in the fact that Britain and Germany – like China and Japan – had a strong trading relationship. But in 1914, this had not prevented strategic tensions leading to the outbreak of conflict.
Naturally enough, Mr Abe also made it clear that he would regard any “inadvertent” conflict as a disaster – and he repeated his call for the opening of a military-to-military communication channel between China and Japan. Read more
By Martin Arnold, Banking Editor, in Davos
The first of many debates about China at Davos this year made an unexpectedly hostile debut this morning as Zhang Xin, head of Beijing’s biggest property developer Soho, was put on the spot over the country’s crackdown on corruption.
“Your industry is one of the most corrupt in China,” said moderator Andrew Browne, China editor of the Wall Street Journal, as he asked Ms Zhang to share her views on the issue. Read more