The World Bank’s president reflects on how the current market turmoil is affecting developing countries.
Mark Foster, group CEO of Accenture’s business consulting unit, believes there is still a pretty upbeat mood among executives. There may be troubled times ahead, but there’s also an underlying sense of confidence, he says.
Eric Schmidt, the chief executive of Google, likes to stay connected.
When panellists at a session on mobile technology in Davos were asked to reveal just how many mobile devices they had about their person, Schmidt emerged the clear winner, pulling out a record haul of four – BlackBerry, mobile phone, iPhone and wireless camera.
So much for convergence!
In the future, however, it is all going to get a lot smarter, Schmidt believes. He reckons the arrival of a fully mobile Web will be a “huge revolution”, offering a new generation of location-based applications and lucrative advertising business.
Since you asked, I am convinced that the Fed’s rate cuts, bold as they are, will help but are far from a solution.
The two big issues are credit markets and a falling housing market. Housing in the U.S. has further to fall on a valuation basis, and is taking on a downward momentum just as it did on the way up.
And credit markets won’t be fixed by interest rate cuts; it will require clarity about losses, rebuilding of balance sheets and the passage of time.
Beyond the mudslinging against bankers (fraud+subprime=grief), there seems to be a real difference in opinion in Davos about the health of the economy. People from finance are a lot gloomier than many of their peers from industry.
Dow Chemical Co. boss Andrew Liveris, whose customers represent a broad range of industries, sees a soft landing and a possible pick-up for the U.S. economy in the second half of 2008.
“I’d still use the word ‘growth’ — I might put the word ‘slow’ in front of it,” he said. “What’s going on now should not have a ‘Chicken Little’ atmosphere. The sky is not falling.”
One of the better themes emerging at Davos is how everybody is mad at bankers. Here’s the thinking – First they lose billions and billions of dollars making subprime loans, quite possibly bringing down the economy in the process, then they go and allow some kid trader to lose $7 billion dollars playing with matches, or, er derivatives, or futures or something.
And their bonuses just go up and up.
Heres one comment:
“I’ve got 200,000 employees working every day, many of them in factories, doing an honest job. What I do is about bricks and mortar,” said a senior executive at one of the world’s largest companies, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“But when I look at these bankers, I have to say that I’m a bit ashamed for them. There needs to be a little bit more common sense.”