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Davos 2011: World Economic Forum Begins

Davos 2011: World Economic Forum Begins

Davos' WEC Opening Address: Dimitry Medvedev

31 Jan, UPDATE: The concluding session of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011 in Davos, SWZ, the Forum’s founder Prof. Klaus Schwab shared the stage with Nick Vujicic of Life Without Limbs, Hon. Christine Lagarde, French Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry – and Raquel and Dan, two of our Global Changemakers. Make sure to check out the session titled “Inspired for a lifetime”! You can view a full video of the session, here. This year’s Davos session was bit of a disappointment. With so much roiling the global economic scene, I would have expected more notable, higher-level panelists this year, but that was not the case. Neither were the issues covered as directly relevant to current geo-political priorities. As a result, I think much of this year’s WEF session was eclipsed by other issues – such as the rapid developments in Egypt. See more on that, here. I hope the organizers are listening. If not to me, then to many of the registrants who were in attendance.

Also of interest, Switzerland tops the overall ranking in The Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011 released by the WEF on the final day. I think you might find the report a good read. You can dowload the PDF version, here. The United States falls two places to fourth position, overtaken by Sweden (2nd) and Singapore (3rd). The Nordic countries continue to be well positioned in the ranking, with Sweden, Finland (7th) and Denmark (9th) among the top 10, and with Norway at 14th. Sweden overtakes the US and Singapore this year to be placed 2nd overall. The United Kingdom, after falling in the rankings over recent years, moves back up by one place to 12th position.

The rankings are calculated from both publicly available data and the Executive Opinion Survey, a comprehensive annual survey conducted by the World Economic Forum together with its network of Partner Institutes (leading research institutes and business organizations) in the countries covered by the Report.

The 2011 annual gathering (Jan 26-30) of the World Economic Forum (WEF), which brings together hundreds of business, political, and finance movers & shakers from around the world, began today in Davos, Switzerland, a renowned winter ski resort for the wealthy and connected. The Davos agenda in recent of years has been dominated by the causes and costs of the global economic crisis known as the ‘Great Recession.’ However, echoing the shifting scheme of global economic power and influence at last year’s Seoul G-20 gathering, the theme for this year’s Davos conference is ‘Shared Norms for the New Reality’ suggesting that the focus will shift to discussing the economic and political partnerships with East and South Emerging Market nations necessary to transform the global economic recovery into a more diverse, inclusive and sustainable global growth model. The so-called ‘Washington Consensus,’ it would appear, is dead.

Among the issues on the opening agenda, the Co-Chairs of the World Economic Forum made compelling statements that the world is at a turning point and dialogue among leaders from all sectors is imperative to forge a sustainable future. “The new reality is an acceleration of globalization,” said Jacob Wallenberg, Chairman of Investor, a Swedish investment firm. To keep pace with emerging challenges, “we need to see more collaboration and dialogue between different stakeholders, which is what Davos is all about,” he added. As the economic center of gravity has shifted East and South – to nations such as India, China, Brazil, Chile, Nigeria and South Africa – a dual-track of global economic growth resulting in high rates of growth in emerging nations, and relatively low or stagnant rates in historically rich Western nations – such as the US, Britain, Germany and France – the new economic rebalancing presents opportunities and challenges best met through a shared, inclusive and diverse interests in improving the global system of trade, finance and commerce. To balance the prevailing policy outlook in Davos, Rohan Poojarah of the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based conservative looney-bin, errr…I mean think-tank, sent me an interesting piece titled, “Does the World Need $100 Trillion More in Credit?”  You decide.

In addition, some of the most noted global economists addressed the issue of the ‘New Normal,’ a term first coined by PIMCO’s CEO and chief investment strategist, Mohamed El Erian. The “new normal” for the global economy looks bleak, according to panelists in a debate hosted by Time magazine and that included Nouriel Roubini, the noted NYU Economist; Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, Plc, a British media conglomerate; and Min Zhu, Special Adviser to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The panel predicted that growth in most advanced economies will remain below trend – that means sluggish or stagnant – with outright contraction in some, with prospects for global growth hindered by a lack of international cooperation on key issues; and an inability of the US to tackle its budget deficit was noted as the “gorilla in the room.”

Separately, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev noted that his nation faces difficulties in building the rule of law, a necessary foundation for participating in the global economy. Addressing overseas investors, Medvedev said decision-makers in Russia are not immune to ordinary mistakes, but “major changes” are taking place, particularly in fighting corruption and modernizing the judiciary. “Realistic attempts are being made to improve the investment climate in Russia. We have not yet achieved outstanding results, but we have resolved to persevere. We are learning and ready to receive constructive advice, but we do not need lecturing,” he added, in a veiled reference to the Western powers.

Sources: NPR, WSJ, Bloomberg      Photo: WEC        Video: Charlie Rose/YouTube



Elison Elliott

Elison Elliott , a native of Belize, is a professional investment advisor for the Global Wealth and Invesment Management division of a major worldwide financial services firm. His experience in the global financial markets span over 18 years in both the public and private sectors. Elison is a graduate, cum laude, of the City College of New York (CUNY), and completed his Masters-level course requirements in the International Finance & Banking (IFB) program at Columbia University (SIPA). Elison lives in the northern suburbs of New York City. He is an avid student of sovereign risk, global economics and market trends, and enjoys writing, aviation, outdoor adventure, International travel, cultural exploration and world affairs.

Areas of Focus:
Market Trends; International Finance; Global Trade; Economics