The Pepsi challenge: avoiding guilt by association
One theme emerging out of this year’s Davos meeting is the corporate world’s annoyance with bankers. They feel that they have been brought low not by their own sins but by an out of control finance industry beset by greed and skewed incentives.
Not only are they struggling to access the money necessary to keep their operations going, as banks withdraw lending facilities and refuse to provide reasonably priced trade finance. But they have been dragged into a supposed crisis of capitalism not of their own making.
Take Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo. The first thing she did when speaking on a panel entitled “the values behind capitalism” yesterday was to distance herself, her company and the rest of the corporate world from the financiers. The capitalism of “main street”, she said, was being declared guilty by association “with the other street” – Wall Street. Clearly, she felt that was an uncomfortable – and unfair ¬ place to be.
That is perhaps a little rich. The corporate world has provided its fair share of scandals – and is doing so at the moment – but the obvious anger of Nooyi and her counterparts might help explain the distinct shortage of bankers at Davos.
Clearly the financial folk want to avoid the perception of taxpayer-funded extravagance that turning up at Davos might give rise to. Just as importantly, perhaps, they don’t want to get stuck up a Swiss mountain surrounded by enraged clients.