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from Breakingviews:

Likonomics: the China buzzword that wasn’t

By John Foley 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist.  The opinions expressed are his own.

A year ago, then-new Chinese Premier Li Keqiang looked like a champion of market forces. Now he seems a bit like a passenger. Capitalistic reforms, and foreign investors, have moved down the pecking order.

Li’s address to the Asia-facing financial elite at China’s annual World Economic Forum on Sept. 10 set the tone. At the same meeting in 2013, he rattled off a laundry list of promised financial reforms, from loosening capital controls to insuring bank deposits. This year brought mostly empty rhetoric. The word “innovation” made 34 appearances.

The fear is that market reforms have been sidelined. Just look at China’s record August trade surplus or its pile of foreign currency reserves, which has topped $4 trillion and is still rising. Both are visible signs of a managed exchange rate policy and closed capital account. The yuan has weakened by 6 percent in real, trade-weighted terms since its peak in January. Other signs of progress, like willingness to let financial products fail, and relinquishing control of non-strategic state companies, are also missing.

from Expert Zone:

Reflections from Davos

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

It’s been an exciting week at Davos. The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum this year was refreshingly different from previous editions. There is a general sense of optimism.

Although the effects of the recent crisis linger on, businesses and business leaders are acknowledging that we are seeing signs of recovery. In Davos, I had conversations with business leaders, heads of industry bodies, as also members of the academic and media fraternity. Each of these conversations resonated optimism.

from Breakingviews:

The “R” word becomes taboo for global elite

By Chris Hughes and Rob Cox

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Spare a thought for the business and financial elite as they slide along the icy byways of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Life is undeniably picking up for them and it would be nice to say so. But the economic recovery has its winners and losers, and it looks bad to be a beneficiary at a conference whose overarching theme is “inclusive growth.”

from Davos Notebook:

Advertising in Davos: The message isn’t medium

With 1,500 business leaders and up to 50 government officials in town for the World Economic Forum it shouldn't be a surprise that advertising messages in Davos are aimed at a different demographic than one would expect in even the most upscale of ski resorts.

The most popular source of ads are emerging nations attempting to attract investors with millions of dollars to sling around. For example many of the buses here tout former Soviet State Azerbaijan as the "Land of the Future."

from Breakingviews:

Davos desperately seeking the next Internet

By Christopher Hughes
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

To feel good again, the world’s financial elite need a growth catalyst like the Internet. America’s shale gas revolution fits the bill. Ask delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos for their 2013 outlook, and that simple idea features in most answers. It may only surface as a passing reference in conversations around the Swiss ski resort. But in the echo chamber of Davos, the notion that shale gas is a reason to be bullish has become common wisdom.

from Davos Notebook:

Where emerging markets are headed next

In its video presentation "Looking to 2060: A Global Vision of Long-term Growth," the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicts that China will soon surpass the United States to become the world's largest economy, and will account for 28 percent of global gross domestic product by 2030. The OECD also predicts that by 2060 the combined GDP of China and India will overtake that of the OECD economies. Meanwhile, Bain estimates that by 2020 emerging economies will account for two-thirds of global economic growth.

Without doubt, emerging countries are showing more resilience and promise than established economies in the Americas and the euro zone.

from Ian Bremmer:

Too much of a good thing: the risks of information

Another year, another Davos. Last year’s World Economic Forum was overwhelmingly about Europe’s existential crisis. But Europe has quieted down, at least for now, and so we’re entering the first non-crisis Davos in years. But that doesn’t mean things have settled into, as Mohamed El-Erian puts it, a ‘new normal.’ It remains difficult to find markets with good risk/return, or an area of the world without serious geopolitical tensions. 

Faced with this ‘new abnormal,’ where the only certainty is that shocks will arise from unexpected places, what is this year’s Davos about? 

from Davos Notebook:

To fight worker illness, we need uniform measurements

Improving the health of employees worldwide is vital to our global economic strength and growth. In the U.S. alone, the economic cost of chronic diseases is estimated at $1.3 trillion annually. The World Economic Forum’s Workplace Wellness Alliance was launched in 2010, and it has spent the years since driving home the critical importance of investing in workplace wellness.

This year, the Alliance is releasing a report that underscores a crucial ingredient to help our mission. Entitled “Making the Right Investment: Employee Health and the Power of Metrics,” the report focuses on the need to establish a common set of yardsticks that organizations can use to understand fully the impact of their wellness programs. It further demonstrates how imperative it is for all of us to work together to learn more about the ways we can encourage and enhance health and wellness in the workplace.

from Anya Schiffrin:

Why we put up with the Davos whirlwind

Thomson Reuters finance columnist Felix Salmon once noted that there is an inverse correlation between how important you are and how much time you actually spend at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Film stars, heads of state and the likes of Bill Clinton swoop in, speak on a prestigious panel, take a couple of important meetings and fly out within a day or two.

Things are very different in our house. After months of rending of hair and gnashing of teeth over the size of our invitation stack, we typically rock up on Monday or Tuesday, stay for the duration and tear ourselves away on Sunday afternoon after the black-tie gala; in 2011 there were all-you-can-eat Indian hors d’oeuvres and free shawls for everyone. While in Davos, we partake of everything we can: the pork-fat canapés at the Victor Pinchuk lunches, watching Imran Khan at the after-hour parties, attending university nightcaps (note to Columbia: please find a venue with at least one chair). We always drop by the Indian Adda in the Café Schneider for a cup of chai and, time permitting, we sign up for the free snow-shoeing lesson.

from Breakingviews:

Politics and economy cloud China’s Davos

By Wei Gu

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Skies were unusually clear in the Chinese city of Tianjin this week as the World Economic Forum’s annual summer event took place. But there were two grey clouds: politics and the economy. Worries over both were hard to miss. Like China itself, there was a distinct feeling that the self-styled Asian gathering of the global elite had lost some of its sparkle.

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