Cautious optimism on economy after Davos

2011-01-31 15:57
Davos - Cautiously optimistic about the rebounding global economy, top business and government leaders have wrapped up their annual meeting with calls for economic growth to help the world's poor and jobless who have taken to the streets in protest.

The five-day World Economic Forum met as Tunisia and Egypt were roiled by protests fuelled by a lack of jobs and political inclusion, putting the issue of poverty and the implications of increasing insecurity high on the agenda.

"It is just imperative for all of us as companies and as countries to focus on saying that 'I'm making our growth more inclusive'," said Chanda Kochhar on Sunday, chief executive of ICICI Bank Limited, the largest private bank in India.

"Gone are the days (when) it's just enough to say that some people will earn theirs, and then they will distribute," she said at a closing panel on the Global Agenda in 2011. "I think the model has to shift to the grass roots to say, 'can we create enough basic stability plus employment generation opportunities for each and every of the small individuals ... to participate in growth'."

The rising cost of food could also eventually force up the cost of other commodities and lead to politically risky inflation around the world, experts said. Higher prices are seen alongside unemployment as one of the reasons for anti-government protests in Asia last year and more recently in the Arab world.

While prospects and risks for the world economy dominated Davos discussions, there was also a growing focus on the impact of globalisation and the interconnectedness of the world via the internet.

Obstacles on the road to recovery

The lessons of WikiLeaks, the secret-spilling site, generated hot debate but no agreement on what governments, business and the internet should do, and whether there should be any regulations.

When more than 2 500 of the best and brightest in business, government, academia and civic life met this week, there was broad agreement that things are looking up from 2010 but also concerns about obstacles on the road to recovery.

"The mood is much better here, but I'm cautious," said Zhu Min, former deputy governor of the Bank of China who is now special adviser to International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

"We should not be over-optimistic because we're not out of the woods yet," he warned in an AP interview.

While the IMF is forecasting another year of strong global economic growth - 4.4% in 2011 compared to 5% last year - he said there is still "a lot of risk" to deal with including the European debt crisis, capital flows, and income inequality.

"I call myself cautiously optimistic," echoed Jacob Wallenberg, chairperson of Swedish-based Investor AB, the largest industrial holding company in the Nordic region.

Jobs about location

He cited risks from the Euro, the currency used by 17 EU countries, the US debt issue, economic growth in Japan, and whether China's fast-growing economy will be hit by a real estate bubble.

Paul Bulcke, CEO of Nestle SA argued that business and world leaders have to rethink how to promote growth that also includes employment.

"Worldwide, there are many, many jobs created," Bulcke said. "The problem is if you live in Western Europe, you say it's the wrong place."

In the economic sweepstakes, the spotlight remained on Asia's two fastest-growing economies, China and India which brought a huge delegation of government officials and business leaders to Davos and sponsored several glitzy events including Saturday night's closing soiree featuring Indian pop and traditional music to spotlight its rising economic star.

Zhu predicted China's economy would grow by about 9% this year, and Kochhar said India's would increase by "upwards of 8.5%".

But, China Ocean Shipping's CEO Wei Jiafu warned that food price rises could eventually force up the cost of other commodities.

Agriculture critical

Ellen Kullman, chairperson and CEO of Dupont which has a large portion of its business in agriculture, told Sunday's panel that the farming community is critical to ramping up production for a growing global population.

She said 17 companies have partnered with the World Economic Forum on "a new vision for agriculture" aimed at making farming an economically viable and sustainable business so poor farmers can send their children to school and live better.

"It's a long-term issue," Kullman said, "and we can't forget that we have to continue to make that progress every year on productivity so that that volatility (in food prices) dampens over time, and you get more into a balanced time."

Sweden's Wallenberg, also a member of the Coca-Cola Company board, said the soft drink manufacturer is pouring resources into ensuring safe water supplies throughout the world.

Coca-Cola has in the past been accused of exploiting wells for its soft drinks production at the expense of the local population.

Davos is often criticised as a great gabfest without tangible results.

Wallenberg said he was struck that British Prime Minister David Cameron at Davos and President Barack Obama in his State of The Union address both said the West needs to be more competitive and spend more on research and development to promote innovation.

But he said Cameron and former US President Bill Clinton, also at Davos, went a step further saying it's time to "stop talking, start delivering".

"I think this is key for all of us in the West," he said. "I think it is key for economic growth that we get our act together."

- AP
Read more on:    david cameron  |  barack obama  |  bill clinton  |  davos  |  economy
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Motoring
 

Thirty and still single? There’s hope!

Are you thirty and still single, without even a hint of a prospect on the horizon? Then read this!

 
 

Men24.com

SA’s Playboy Playmate of the year in action!
12 lies everyone accepts as fact
Hottie of the day: Charlotte
Breakup text goes viral and it’s hilarious!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Senior Human Resource Practitioner

Cape Town
Quantum Recruitment

Marketing Executive

Cape Town Southern Suburbs
Cozens Recruitment Group ( Western Cape)
R15 000 - R25 000 Per Month

Project Manager

Cape Town
Paracon
R400 - R500 Per Month

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

Good Morning, Mr Mandela by Zelda la Grange

Good Morning, Mr Mandela tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman had her life, beliefs, prejudices and everything she once believed in utterly transformed by the greatest man of her time. Now R221. Pre-order now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You have the ability to lead and take up campaigns that can sway the crowd and make things happen. There can be a slightly...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.