Global Economy
Davos 2011: Annual gabfest of the political and business elite opens on Wednesday
By Finfacts Team
Jan 24, 2011 - 2:46 AM

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Aerial photo of Davos, Switzerland, the biggest tourism metropolis of the Swiss Alps, captured on January 17, 2011, before the opening of the Annual Meeting 2011 of the World Economic Forum. Picture shows the centre of the Alpine City with the revamped Congress Center close to the famous ice hockey stadium. ©World Economic Forum; by Andy Mettler

Davos 2011: The annual gabfest of the political and business elite opens on Wednesday  and will continue until Sunday.

Among issues that will be discussed will be the Eurozone debt crisis and the two-speed global economic recovery with countries such as China and India in the lead.

Political leaders expected to attend include Chancellor Merkel of Germany, President Sarkozy of France, President  Medvedev of Russia, Prime Minister Kan of Japan and the leaders of Mexico, Thailand and Indonesia.

In a decade, Chinese representation has risen five-fold while and India is up four-fold, said Robert Greenhill, the forum's chief business officer. ''It's a reflection of the accelerated leadership of China and India in the global and economic and intellectual discussions globally,'' he added.

India is sending several ministers and China's Commerce Minister, Chen Deming, will lead the delegation from Beijing.

United States Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, will head the US delegation and bankers are reported to be returning in strength this year after a number of low profile years.

Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase is due to attend, as will Vikram Pandit, Citigroup head.

Policymakers on the event list include Jean-Claude Trichet, European Central Bank president and Axel Weber, Bundesbank president.

''The world has fundamentally changed,'' said Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum (WEF), last week. ''One of the most important factors of the new reality is the shift of geopolitical and geoeconomic power from north to south, from west to east.'

The Outlook on the Global Agenda 2011 report, launched last week by the WEF, emphasizes the importance of rebalancing risks and opportunities and developing collaborative solutions on a global scale. “Today’s global interconnectedness means that it is impossible for any stakeholder to address global challenges in isolation,” says Prof. Schwab “Leadership today means navigating a larger, more complex set of issues and more complicated relationships.”

The Outlook on the Global Agenda 2011 is a publication of the Network of Global Agenda Councils, incorporating the result of the annual Survey on the Global Agenda of what are termed the world’s foremost experts and discussions at the third Summit on the Global Agenda, which brought together more than 600 multidisciplinary thought leaders from 60 countries to discuss the most relevant issues on the global, regional and industry agendas.

The World Economic Forum created the Network of Global Agenda Councils in 2008. The councils are charged with monitoring key trends and risks, mapping interrelationships, addressing knowledge gaps and developing recommendations to address key challenges:

  • Global Power Shifts: Economic and political power is more spread out and emerging markets have become centres of growth and political decision-making.
  • Economic uncertainty: The high degree of volatility and ambiguity across markets will likely lead to irrational investor behaviour, creating the potential for currency wars, fiscal crisis and persistent global imbalances.
  • Resource scarcity: With the population set to top 7 billion, the resource strain threatens to undercut growth, create environmental problems and cause social and political conflict.
  • Institutional weakness: Institutions which were fragile before the 2008 crisis have become even more so in the face of global instability – as a result, the world is not in a state to withstand further shocks. “Resilient responses to these trends and related risks must be based on the power of interdisciplinary thinking,” says Martina Gmur, Director, Head of Agenda Council Development. “The Forum’s response has been in the creation of the first-ever Risk Response Network which brings together leaders across industries to assess and develop solutions to current and future risks.”

According to the report, more than 550 'thought leaders' rank the “increased concern for corporate social responsibility” and “globalization” as the most overestimated risks, meaning that the global community has lent too much importance to these issues and not enough to others.

On the underestimated side of the scale, “growing income disparities” and “increase in demand for resources” are ranked as the most important issues that have not been given enough attention globally. The Risk Response Network (RRN) will bring a new approach to addressing the complexity of risks that leaders face and enable them to capture the upside of those risks. A network of risk experts and counsellors are responsible for responding to this new risk landscape and helping to advance the global goal of rebalancing and represents the next evolution of collaboration to advance global development.

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