Thursday, February 27, 2003

WEF in Davos, Switzerland

economics


This post is a collection of high-lights from this email
take from the Topica Email List Directory.



The global economy is in very very very very bad shape. Last yearwhen WEF met here in New York all I heard was, "Yeah, it's bad, butrecovery is right around the corner". This year "recovery" was a wordnever uttered. Fear was palpable -- fear of enormous fiscal hysteria.The watchwords were "deflation", "long term stagnation" and "collapse ofthe dollar". All of this is without war.


US unilateralism is seen as arrogant, bullyish. If the U.S.
cannot behave in partnership with its allies -- especially the Europeans
-- it risks not only political alliance but BUSINESS, as well. Company
leaders argued that they would rather not have to deal with US
government attitudes about all sorts of multilateral treaties (climate
change, intellectual property, rights of children, etc.) -- it's easier
to just do business in countries whose governments agree with yours. And
it's cheaper, in the long run, because the regulatory envornments match.
War against Iraq is seen as just another example of the unilateralism.



I learned that the US economy is the primary drag on the global economy,
and only a handful of nations have sufficient internal growth to thrive
when the US is stagnating.



Finally, who are these guys? I actually enjoyed a lot of my
conversations, and found many of the leaders and rich quite charming and
remarkably candid. Some dressed elegantly, no matter how bitter cold and
snowy it was, but most seemed quite happy in ski clothes or casual
attire. Women wearing pants was perfectly acceptable, and the elite is
sufficiently
Multicultural that even the suit and tie lacks a sense of dominance.
Watching Bill Clinton address the conference while sitting in the hotel
room of the President of Mozambique -- we were viewing it on closed
circuit TV -- I got juicy blow-by=blow analysis of US foreign policy
from a remarkably candid head of state. A day spent with Bill Gates
turned out to be fascinating and fun. I found the CEO of Heinekin
hilarious, and George Soros proved quite earnest about confronting AIDS.
Vicente Fox -- who I had breakfast with -- proved sexy and smart like a
--- well, a fox. David Stern (Chair of the NBA) ran up and gave me a
hug.


The world isn't run by a clever cabal. It's run by about 5,000
bickering, sometimes charming, usually arrogant, mostly male people who
are accustomed to living in either phenomenal wealth, or great personal
power. A few have both. Many of them turn out to be remarkably naive --
especially about science and technology. All of them are financially
wise, though their ranks have thinned due to unwise tech-stock
investing. They pay close heed to politics, though most would be happy
if the global political system behaved far more rationally -- better for
the bottom line. They work very hard, attending sessions from dawn to
nearly midnight, but expect the standards of intelligence and analysis
to be the best available in the entire world. They are impatient. They
have a hard time reconciling long term issues (global wearming, AIDS
pandemic, resource scarcity) with their daily bottomline foci. They are
comfortable working across languages, cultures and gender, though white
caucasian males still outnumber all other categories. They adore hi-tech
gadgets and are glued to their cell phones.

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