Opinion

Chrystia Freeland

Davos prescriptions for the U.S. economy

Chrystia Freeland
Jan 25, 2013 16:30 UTC

DAVOS, Switzerland – Get ready for a new elite consensus on the U.S. budget deficit. One of the functions of the World Economic Forum – decide for yourself whether this is a virtue or a vice – is to give the plutocrats a venue for figuring out their party line. Think of it as crowdsourcing for the 0.1 percent.

For a long time, the conventional wisdom among this crew has been that the deficit and the debt were the United States’ chief economic problems. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when Martin Sorrell, the head of the global communications giant WPP, referred to the deficit as the country’s most important economic issue at a breakfast discussion he moderated at the forum this week. The conversation was off the record, but when I asked Sorrell if I could quote his comment, he happily doubled down: Not only was the deficit the United States’ most important economic woe, it was the most important economic issue in the entire world.

“This is the world’s gray swan,” Sorrell told me, in a play on the idea of unpredictable, powerful “black swan” events, popularized by the financial scholar Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Most of the panelists (disclosure: I was one of them) at the WPP conversation agreed with Sorrell – but that Davos consensus may be on the verge of shifting. One of the most convincing signs of that switch came from an interview I did here with Lawrence H. Summers, a Harvard University economist and a monthly columnist for Reuters.

Summers, as he put it himself, is hardly a radical – his resume includes stints as secretary of the Treasury, president of Harvard, and President Barack Obama’s chief economic adviser. He is also an academic economist in excellent standing: Summers was one of the youngest tenured professors at Harvard and a recipient in 1993 of the John Clark Bates Medal, which is awarded every two years to the best economist under 40.

Canada’s top central banker on the Volcker Rule

Chrystia Freeland
Feb 1, 2012 20:01 UTC

In an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney tells Chrystia that the implementation of the Volcker Rule in the U.S. will have unintended consequences in the international bond markets and that JPMorgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon is wrong to say that the Basel Committee’s decision to increase capital requirements is “anti-American.”

 

‘Kumbaya’ capitalism collides with self-interest

Chrystia Freeland
Jan 26, 2012 23:11 UTC

DAVOS, Switzerland–George Soros is a traitor to his class. That’s not an insult or a tabloid exaggeration. It is, instead, a direct quote from my conversation with the billionaire investor and philanthropist at the World Economic Forum here.

‘‘I am a traitor to my class,’’ Soros said. ‘‘I think that the income differentials are too wide and ought to be narrowed,’’ he added, which is why he favors a bigger hit on those, like himself, at the very top.

But among his plutocratic peers, he said, that is very much a minority opinion. In fact, Soros, who helped spearhead the muscular Wall Street support for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, particularly among hedge fund and private equity investors, believes the president’s call for higher taxes is the reason he has been ditched by the financiers: ‘‘That has led my hedge fund community to abandon Obama in favor of any Republican, because they don’t like to be taxed.’’

Davos Today with Chrystia Freeland, January 27th Edition

Chrystia Freeland
Feb 3, 2011 20:09 UTC

On last Thursday’s edition of Davos Today, Chrystia interviewed a top Google executive about the internet giant’s recent management shake-up; chatted with President Obama’s former chief economic adviser about the State of the Union; heard from America’s principal union leader on what lessons Germany and Japan can teach the U.S. economy; and more.  Here’s the video and the guest list:

* Nikesh Arora, Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer, Google

* Larry Summers, Former Director of the National Economic Council and Former Secretary of the Treasury

* Min Zhu, Special Advisor to the Managing Director, International Monetary Fund

Davos Today with Chrystia Freeland, January 26th edition

Chrystia Freeland
Feb 3, 2011 15:31 UTC

Last week at Davos, Chrystia anchored an hour-long daily talk show that featured many of the World Economic Forum’s most exciting participants.  Last Wednesday’s edition featured a segments on frugal innovation in India with two top Indian businessmen; the state of trust in business and government today with a behavioral economist and two CEOs; an appraisal of President Obama’s State of the Union from two pre-eminent economists; and more.  Here’s the video and the guest list:

* T.K. Kurien, CEO, Wipro IT

* Richard Edelman, President and CEO, Edelman

* Dan Ariely, James B. Duke Professor of Behavioral Economics, Duke University Fuqua School of Business

* L. Kevin Kelly, CEO, Heidrick & Struggles

* David Schlesinger, Editor-in-Chief, Reuters

* Raghuram Rajan, Eric J. Gleacher Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

The “working rich” and the rest of us

Chrystia Freeland
Jan 26, 2011 14:31 UTC

‘‘The next 10 years is going to be the most exciting time in our lives!’’ said Tejpreet Singh Chopra, an Indian entrepreneur. ‘‘The Indian economy will double! It will be incredible!’’

It was hot and humid  —  typical spring weather in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. It was also late  —  close to midnight. But the enthusiastic Mr. Chopra, dressed in a still-crisp light  shirt with blue and white stripes, navy trousers and blue turban, was on his way to yet another meeting.

Mr. Chopra was in East Africa last May as one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders, a sort of farm team for the full-grown global business elite that gathers every January in Davos.

“Frisson” at Davos

Chrystia Freeland
Jan 13, 2011 17:19 UTC

Watch Chrystia and Reuters finance blogger Felix Salmon discuss how to find “frisson” at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting at Davos, starting with that 20-minute cab ride with the Ayatollah.  Oh, and the reinstatement of Russia’s president – all because of Davos.

Posted by Peter Rudegeair.

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