Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Tax evaders on the run

  By Neil Chatterjee
    The U.S. has promised it will hunt down tax evaders.
    And it seems tax evaders are on the run.
    DBS bank, based in the growing offshore financial centre of
Singapore, told Reuters it had been approached by U.S. citizens
asking for its private banking services. But when told they would
have to sign U.S. tax declaration forms, the potential clients
disappeared.  
    Swiss banks also approached DBS on the hope they could
offload troublesome U.S. clients to a location that so far has
not been reached by the strong arms of Washington or Brussels.
    DBS said no thanks. In fact many private banks and boutique
advisors now seem to be avoiding U.S. clients.
    Will this spread to other nationalities, as governments
invest in tax spies and tax havens invest in white paint?
    Is this the end of offshore private private banking?

Global warming: Economic opportunity or not?

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Stephan Dolezalek, Managing Director of VantagePoint Venture Partners and Tom Werner, Chief Executive of solar power company SunPower, sat down at Reuters’ Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit in San Francisco and shared their views on global warming, investment and cleantech.

Dolezalek sees industrialization in developing countries as a more predictable impetus for investment than global warming.

AUDIO – A record-setting blog!

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Everyone likes to set records. Think about those two giant twins who felt the need to ride motorcycles for their Guinness Book of World Records picture. What were those guys thinking?

Well, after many Reuters Summits, it seemed we set a record on Monday for the use of the word “crap” in one session.

Say what? I could have had me a download on my old Nokia?

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At least 100 million users of Nokia smartphones have been kept in the dark about opportunities to download software applications years before Apple launched its AppStore, says Lee Williams, Executive Director of the Symbian Foundation. ”It’s actually probably one of the biggest marketing mistakes… certainly in the mobile industry, for as long as I can remember,” Williams said at the Reuters Technology Summit.  “Somewhere between 100 and 125 million units have shipped with that capability. There’s been a download facility in 100-125 million phones,” he said.  And who’s ever spoken about it? Does anybody know it’s there?… Maybe 10 percent have ever even loaded a third-party application onto their product.” So is Apple getting credit for other people’s work? “Absolutely. I was laughing out loud when I saw the iPhone OS3 launch,” Williams said, adding that what was tagged as the world’s most advanced mobile OS (operating system) features, Symbian had had for 3-5 years.

Williams did credit Apple with one thing — a knack for design:  ”They pioneered new ground by taking this beautiful display size and doing a display-only product. That was pioneering”.  Symbian software is used in about two-thirds of all smartphones but of course not in the hugely popular Apple iPhone.

 

 

                                                                                                                        Apple introduces iPhone

No gadgets please, we’re tech executives!

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Tech managers are not just savvy about new technology but also own the coolest, most cutting edge gadgets, right? Think again, some of them have no use for gadgets at all, finding pleasure instead in century old paintings and (gasp) pen and paper.

Alain Dutheil heads the world’s second largest mobile chipmaker, ST-Ericsson, but told Reuters Technology Summit he is not a big fan of the gadgets that run on his company’s chips.

from Shop Talk:

Food shortage + financial crisis = bleak outlook

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The global economic meltdown has the World Bank on high alert.
 
As the financial crisis deepens, the World Bank is issuing even bleaker warnings about rising poverty and hunger in the developing world.  Initially, it estimated that 46 million people in developing countries could be pushed into poverty.  Now, that level is up another 7 million.

FOOD-WORLDBANK/"We estimate that about 130 million people were pushed into poverty from the food crisis and if you add the financial crisis on top of that we are estimating that about 53 million more people could be pushed into poverty as a result of the financial crisis," World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit
 
NEPAL/Children and women are being hardest hit, she said.  The World Bank estimated that the current financial downturn may add between 200,000 and 400,000 additional infant deaths per year on average in the 2009 to 2015 period.  That means a total of 1.4 million to 2.8 million more infant deaths, if the financial strain continues. 
 
"The one big piece we need to look at in this financial crisis and its translation into the food crisis is that we're talking about human beings," said Okonjo-Iweala.  "Remember that 923 million people are malnourished the world over.  When you talk about the financial crisis becoming an unemployment crisis in the developed world, in the developing world for many poor people it's not an issue of unemployment, it's an issue of life and death."
 
(Reuters photos of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Jan. 2009/Girls waiting for drinking water in Kathmandu, March 2009)

from Shop Talk:

Food safety worries? Join the club

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peanutcorpAre you worried about the rash of high-profile and often deadly tainted-food scandals involving everything from peanut butter and chili peppers to spinach and baby formula?

You are not alone.

"When I heard peanut products were being contaminated earlier this year, I immediately thought of my 7-year-old daughter, Sasha, who has peanut butter sandwiches for lunch probably three times a week," U.S. President Barack Obama said recently, referring to a salmonella outbreak that has made 683 people in 46 states sick, killed as many as nine and forced the recall of more than 3,000 products. 

from Global Investing:

Reuters Funds Summit: A financial Chernobyl

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The mood in the asset management industry is "very cautious, very realistic but not pessimistic" after the financial industry's "Chernobyl" of Lehman Brothers collapse, according to Europe's fund industry chief.

Peter De Proft, director general of the European Fund and Asset Management Association (EFAMA) told the Reuters Funds Summit, that the mood was now more optimistic.  At least, certainly more so than  4-5 months ago.

Feeding America’s six degrees of separation

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While the six degrees game is tied to Kevin Bacon, connections to other celebrities are helping a major charity.

Feeding America, formerly known as America’s Second Harvest, has several celebrities on its entertainment council, including chairman David Arquette.

from Global Investing:

Reuters Funds Summit: Madoff, the silent presence

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Master-fraudster Bernie Madoff is the invisible guest at an annual fund fest in Luxembourg, the European capital for fund administration.

Even though the former Nasdaq chairman is under arrest thousands of miles away from this discreet financial centre nestled between Belgium, France and Germany, his presence was omnipresent. Fund managers just can't stop mentioning him.

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