Davos Notebook

New reality at Davos

The theme of this year’s annual get-together of business and political leaders in Davos is “Shared norms for the new reality”.

One of the main examples of that new reality is the shift in political and economic power from West to East and North to South, according to Klaus Schwab, the founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum that organises the meeting. The change, cemented by the economic crisis, will cause upheaval, he told reporters.

This year it seems the new reality is striking close to home.

Among the 2,500 participants will be 25 heads of government and more than 80 ministers, with every G20 country represented at one level or another.

But look closely at the list and it is the absence of leaders from Brazil, China and India that stands out.

Brazil is represented by its foreign minister, central bank chief and head of the development bank BNDES. India has half a dozen ministers, including finance and home affairs, and China is limited to a minister and a few senior officials.

Will Goldman’s new BRICwork stand up?

RTXWLHHJim O’Neill, the Goldman Sachs economist who coined the term BRICs back in 2001, is adding four new countries to the elite club of emerging market economies. But does his new edifice have the same solid foundations?

In future, the BRIC economies of Brazil, Russia, China and India will be merged with those of Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey and South Korea under the banner “growth markets,” O’Neill told the Financial Times.

Hmmm.  Doesn’t quite grab you like BRICs, does it? The Guardian helpfully offers an amended branding banner of  “Bric ‘n Mitsk” (geddit?). But which ever way you cut it, it’s hard to see a flood of investment conferences and funds floating off under the new moniker.