(CNN) - The woman charged with saving the eurozone will launch proceedings at Davos with the crisis weighing heavy on her mind, a day after a major ratings agency announced the Greek debt exchange deal would put the country in default.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel – dubbed her country’s “Iron Lady” – will provide the official opening address early in the evening on the first day of the World Economic Forum 2012, in the Swiss resort town of Davos.
Together with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Merkel has been at the heart of efforts to rescue the eurozone from the debt crisis engulfing its member states. The crisis will be at the forefront of discussions on the opening day, with a session after lunch on the “new context in Europe,” addressing levels of confidence in the Greek and Italian solutions, emerging faultlines on the continent and the eurozone’s future within the European Union. FULL POST
Davos, Switzerland (CNN) – Snow, snow and more snow.
Overnight and all morning the flakes have been falling, causing havoc with the final preparations for the WEF. Swiss police are looking on in amusement as city-dwellers negotiate the slippery streets. Locals here have looks of resignation as they dig themselves out of drifts - or maybe their weariness is because the Forum is about to start, streets and shops are closed and Davos is about to become a high-security nightmare.
And yet there is a childlike appearance to those of us who have escaped offices and newsrooms to come here. We may huff, puff, complain and struggle in the drifts, but we are secretly like children released from classrooms to play in the snow.
All this snow helps take Davos back to its origins. After all, what was Davos originally, but a remote, isolated, elite meeting where the problems of the world could be solved? Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...
Davos, Switzerland (CNN) - Four years ago, the halls of Davos buzzed with excitement nine short months before the near-collapse of the Western banking system. Oil was above $100 a barrel, while sovereign funds from China to the Middle East started to flex their muscles on the global stage of the World Economic Forum.
There is now a bitter aftertaste that lingers after the recent upheaval of that financial crisis. The debt burdens in Europe and the U.S. still need to be reckoned with, giving those from the emerging markets the space to bask in the limelight here at this now fabled mountain retreat.
The central theme at the gathering of power brokers is transformation. That could simply be defined as the rise of the developing world – which is clearly transforming business as we know it today.
Davos, Switzerland (CNN) – For more than forty years, Klaus Schwab has been inviting elites to the Davos mountains. Now he admits things are "very difficult."
On Monday, Klaus Schwab, the World Economic Forum’s founder and executive director, told me he was disappointed with the progress made by leaders during 2011. He had been "hopeful that the economy would grow again. That is not the case." Schwab admitted he was "irritated by an increasing lack of willingness to deal with global issues."
Klaus Schwab is not a man noted for hyperbole or exaggeration. So when he told me of his worries about a "bunker mentality" or "burnout" in voters who "cannot cope anymore," then it’s probably time to worry.
The reason this is so worrying is that there are still so many problems to be solved. Some, like Greece, are in danger of getting worse. There is still no solution, and the politicians are miles away from agreeing on the future direction for the euro crisis. FULL POST
Davos, Switzerland (CNN) – Multinationals are becoming increasingly aware of the need to investment in innovation, education, and R&D in emerging economies, says John Quelch, dean of China Europe International Business School.
“If you look at China at the moment, (there is) a tremendous amount of multinational funds coming in from the West investing in R&D centers in China,” says Quelch.
“That’s partly to get closer to the huge local China market, but it’s also a reflection, I think, of the understanding that there’s a lot of talent in China in terms of science and engineering that can be tapped successfully by the multinationals through these R&D centers.”
He adds that if Western multinationals want to truly understand emerging economies as markets, they will have to invest more in human capital in those countries.
Davos, Switzerland (CNN) – I have arrived in Davos, a few days ahead of the World Economic Forum. Getting here early before the hot air starts rising from the WEF gives me a chance to witness this elite mountain resort without the fuss and to think about what might happen at this year's junket. Writing this I can see the last straggler skiers enjoying this year's superb snow - the best in a decade - which frankly is more than can be said for the prospects for this year's forum. I think this will be one of the most complicated and will produce relatively little by way of initiative and solutions.
It will be "Davos do little."
(CNN) – As China once again is getting calls to bail out a European nation, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told a group of business leaders that “countries must first put their own house in order.”
While “willing to extend a helping hand,” China is working on its own woes with inflation and structural reforms, Wen told the audience at the World Economic Forum in Dalian, China, on Wednesday. “Developed countries must take responsible fiscal and monetary policies. What is most important now is to prevent the further spread of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe,” said Wen, according to Bloomberg.
His comments come after reports that Rome is in talks with Beijing to buy Italian debt bonds and invest in some key Italian companies. That report sent stocks higher Tuesday, as the equity markets continued a roller-coaster ride over fears that a Greek default is imminent, sparking a debt contagion as investors lose appetite to buy other European bonds.
(CNN) – Watching CNN’s fantastic Davos coverage both on television and online, I can’t help but notice we’re always talking to men. Turns out, there’s good reason for it.
According to World Economic Forum executives, women have never made up more than 17% of total attendees. The WEF has introduced a quota for female executives from major sponsors at this year’s summit. One in five delegates sent by strategic partners must be female.
I’ve never met a quota that didn’t have a long trail of strong opinion floating behind it, and this one is no exception.
As one of my Twitter followers asked: “Why does gender still count in 2011? Why don’t we talk about how qualified a person is for the job of CEO?”
Beijing (CNN) - When it comes to labor rights, collective bargaining is forbidden in China. But if you're talking shopping, it's all the rage.
Group buying, or tuan gou in Chinese, is wildly popular across the country. Groupon of the U.S. isn't here yet but over a thousand local websites are. These sites offer similar services– hooking up China's 140 million online shoppers looking to buy the same thing and negotiate hefty discounts.
The Chinese have taken the concept and run with it. Sites like Lashou, Meituan, and Teambuy are selling everything from cars to home furnishings, to the homes themselves in bulk.
We have begun. In the coffee bars and salons around the WEF, I am now meeting and greeting people I haven’t seen since last year’s Davos. I am trying desperately to remember names, occupations and titles.
Crucially – any important facts about that person and their life. Who are they? Where are they? What are they doing? Did their company make money or lose a fortune? Is the gossip that they are going to be promoted or fired? Help!!
I am perfecting the smile of recognition when I have no idea. It’s not pretty.
Everyone is talking about the new economies and the role they are playing in the world. It is the only topic in town. But what to do about it and how to handle it? So far, there are few answers about that. Tonight we hear from President Medvedev. It will be a serious, somber reflection on the state of play in Russia I guess, after the airport bombing.
Last night on Quest Means Business, Ben Verwaayen, the CEO of Alcatel Lucent – who I love having on the programme – talked about the need to take real decisions. He is worried about protectionism and wants a conclusion to the Doha round. Good luck, Ben.
Trade ministers are due to meet later this week to try and jump-start the process. If I had a dollar for every time they have done that, I would be able to afford to ski at Davos every year.
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