MacroScope

from Davos Notebook:

Groundhog Day in Davos

groundhog

The programme may strike a different  note -- this year's Davos is apparently all about Shared Norms for the New Reality -- but much of the discussion at the 41st World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos this month will have a distinctly familiar ring to it.

Last January, the five-day talkfest in the Swiss Alps was dominated by Greece's near-death experience at the hands of the bond market and recriminations over the role of bankers in the financial crisis, as well as worries about China's rapid economic ascent and a lot of calls for a new trade deal.

Fast forward 12 months and not much has changed.

Ireland has joined Greece in the euro zone's intensive care unit and Portugal and  Spain are getting round-the-clock monitoring. The annual round of bankers' bonuses is once again stirring up trouble. China looms larger than ever on the global stage, after overtaking Japan in 2010 to become the world's second-biggest economy. And trade ministers who signally failed to make headway last year say they really must get down to business when they meet on the sidelines of Davos this time round.

For a sense of the deja vu, take a look at the WEF's latest hot-off-the-press report on Global Risks -- a 50-page tome on the spider's web of interconnected threats now facing the world. Not much progress in addressing them has been made, it seems. Government debt and the danger of sovereign default remains top of the risk hit-list, alongside macroeconomic imbalances, the fragility of the economic recovery and resource limits. It is a very similar litany as a year ago.

Worryingly, while the threats remain all too visible, the report's authors conclude that the world is now uniquely vulnerable to any further shocks in the wake of the financial crisis.

from Davos Notebook:

Watch Felix Salmon interview Nouriel Roubini

Yesterday evening Reuters.com streamed an interview with renowned economist Nouriel Roubini live from our studio at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Reuters columinst Felix Salmon presented the interview and all the questions he put to Roubini were sent in by visitors to our Davos 2010 live blog.

Greece's economic woes, U.S. GDP and the trustworthiness of statistics coming out of China were just some of the issues being discussed. If you missed it, or if you want to see it again, watch the interview in the player below.

from Davos Notebook:

Bouncing back

Figure 0.1

Being bullish is, of course, part of the job if you are a CEO.

But sentiment really is improving. The annual PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of 1,200 industry bosses from 52 countries shows a nice pick in in the short- and long-term confidence curves, with 31 percent of those questioned now "very confident" about revenue prospects for the next 12 months and 81 percent plain-vanilla confident.

More remarkable, perhaps, confidence about sales looking out 3 years is now back up around its historic highs.

from Davos Notebook:

Davos Man turns 40

Davos Man2 Many happy returns or midlife crisis?

The annual talkfest in the Alps records its 40th birthday this year but the rich and powerful will hardly be in celebratory mood as problems pile up in the post-crisis world.

How to withdraw the trillions of dollars in stimulus that helped the world avoid a rerun of the Great Depression, without spooking markets all over again?

What to do in the face of the world's lukewarm response to the hot topic of climate change?

Essential reading for tomorrow’s leaders

Amid the sessions on managing risk, sustainable consumption and lessons from the recession, it’s refreshing to see that the World Economic Forum has carved out time to discuss the world of literature at its “summer Davos” meeting in Dalian, China. The aim of its panel on “Great Books for a Globalized World” is to ask, which classic and contemporary books from different cultures are essential for developing the personal values and professional philosophies of future leaders?

We asked one of the participants in the panel, Xie Youshun, professor of Chinese literature at the Sun Yat Sen University in Guangzhou, China , to give us his list. It’s published below, right above the box where we invite your suggestions for essential reading for future leaders.

1. New History by Chien Mu
2. Nineteen Lectures on Chinese Philosophy by Mou Zongsan (aka Mou Tsung-san)
3. Heavy Body (collection of essays) by Liu Xiaofeng, Shanghai Renmin Press 1999
4. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
5. China 1957 (novel) by You Fengwei, Shanghai Wenyi Press 2001
6. Representations of the Intellectual by Edward Said
7. Face and Peach Blossom (2004 novel, aka “Renmian Taohua”) by Ge Fei
8. The Myth of Sisyphus, by Albert Camus
9. Gates of Eden, by Morris Dickstein
10. The Lesson of this Century by Karl Popper

from Africa News blog:

A tale of two Africas

Good news and bad news for Africa from the latest take on global risks from the World Economic Forum. Not much danger for most of the continent, it says, from an asset bubble burst. That's the good. The bad, of course, is that this is because there are not many financial assets to bubble. In fact, it deems the overall exposure even to economic risks is small because African economies are not particularly tied in to global markets.

Actually, the report shows that there are two Africas. Mapped by their susceptibility for economic and asset bubble trouble, most African countries are bunched together in a low risk range. But another, smaller cluster, including Nigeria and South Africa, finds itself in much more peril and shares space on the WEF risk map with Western and Eastern Europe.

Good news, in a contradictory sort of way.