The annual World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland is underway and inevitably the gathering of the world’s political and business elite is focused on the economic downturn. Even before the event was officially opened by the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice delegates were arguing about the response of central banks and whether there had been sufficient leadership.
There was plenty of disagreement what impact a US recession might have on the rest of the world; Andre Schneider, Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, said: “A major recession or a stock market downturn has a lot of implications beyond pure economic reasons, so frankly if we would not be debating this here then we would not be doing our job either, and I think, especially here, we can look at it in a much more holistic way than we would in a government view or in a pure economic view.”
Business leaders surveyed at the gathering put the threat of a decline at the top of their list of concerns with those from Japan and the US gloomier than the Europeans. And the market turmoil may be responsible for some high-profile cancellations this year, including US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Britain’s finance minister Alistair Darling.