Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Davos World Economic Forum

Snippets from this link below Confidence evaporates, currency row brews at Davos

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Confidence among the world's top company chiefs meeting in Davos has tumbled to a new low and a brewing currency row between the United States and China cast doubt on the political will to act in concert.

"Forty percent of the world's wealth was destroyed in last five quarters. It is an almost incomprehensible number," said Stephen Schwarzman, chairman of the leading private equity company Blackstone Group.

Crisis-hit bankers are thin on the ground at the snow-covered mountain town, leaving policymakers to work behind the scenes on ways to fix the financial system, ahead of a summit of the G20 group of big and emerging countries in April and a G8 summit in July.

Ahead of Wen's speech, a row intensified over Beijing's exchange rate policy after new U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner branded China a currency manipulator last week, using a term the previous administration deliberately avoided for years.

Hopes for a short "V"-shaped recession appear to have evaporated with most business leaders expecting no more than a slow and gradual recovery over the next three years.

"The three-year view is a bit better but the bad news is it is not that much better," said Tony Poulter, global head of consulting at PwC.

Delegates in Davos were united in the view that an economic upturn is some way off.

Stephen Roach, Morgan Stanley's Asia chairman, agreed the next three years would be tough.

"The concept of a vigorous 'V'-shaped recovery is for business cycles of the past but not for this post-bubble, post-crisis business cycle. It is going to be a long slog in 2010, in 2011," he told Reuters.

That grim scenario has left sovereign fund Dubai International Capital wary of making big long-term investments even though it sees asset prices at reasonable levels.

"We're still very nervous about making some big bets -- we see the financial crisis getting worse. There's not going to be a magic wand solution to the problem," Chief Executive Sameer al-Ansari told Reuters.

Some 2,500 guests from 96 countries are gathering at the World Economic Forum in Davos. It has already been called one of the most significant Davos forums in the event's 40 year history.

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