Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

AUDIO – What’s going on with the economy? Ask a trucker.

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That was the advice from truck manufacturer Navistar International Corp’s CEO Dan Ustian at this week’s Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit in Chicago.

Ustian said the current slowdown has been worse and deeper than expected — even though the trucking industry had a sense that things were starting to go south as far back as 2007.

Ustian, one of our featured guests on the first day of the summit, told Reuters that the trucking industry is a great place for people to start if they want to get a good read on the economy. Most things that are made in the U.S. get where they’re going with the help of a truck somewhere along the way.

The breadth of the company’s businesses supports his view.

Navistar is a manufacturer of commercial trucks, IC Bus, LLC (IC) brand buses, MaxxForce brand diesel engines, Workhorse Custom Chassis, LLC (WCC) brand chassis for motor homes and step vans, Navistar Defense, LLC military vehicles, and is a provider of service parts for all makes of trucks and trailers. Additionally, it also designs and manufactures diesel engines for pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs.

Mr Prime Minister, you’re no President

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The Reuters Middle East Investment Summit in Dubai was hit by the whirlwind visit of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown across the Gulf as he looked to drum up support for ailing British firms and convince Gulf investors the IMF’s bailout fund was a safe place to put their cash. After courting Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, it was a fleeting visit to the region’s commercial hub Dubai. As his motorcade flew passed the world’s tallest tower But hark…we have seen this before. President George Bush headed to the United Arab Emirates more than a year ago. But that’s where the similarities stop. For Mr Bush, Dubai ground to a halt. Chaos ensued. Streets were closed. Workers sent home. The President was in town, so that was that. Fast forward November 4, 2008. Mr Brown is here. Dubai is business as usual, although The Prime Minister’s motorcade did delay a speaker for the Reuters summit. Perhaps the credit crunch has meant random days off are no longer on the Dubai agenda……. unless you’re the President of course.

A philosophical look at the habits of the super-rich

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rtx8vgi.jpgThe credit crisis may be hitting the man on the street hard, but spending by the “other half” on the latest super yacht or Damien Hirst work of art looks set to carry on relatively unaffected.

Super-wealthy individuals in commodity-rich areas such as Russia and the Middle East are reaping the benefits of a five-year boom in oil and other commodity prices.

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