[OPE] Gillian Tett and the socialists at Davos...

From: Jurriaan Bendien <jurriaanbendien@online.nl>
Date: Mon Jan 24 2011 - 10:29:12 EST

Lonely CEOs flee hostile world for self-help group
By Gillian Tett in New York

FT January 23, 2011

....this year a record 1,400 CEOs and other senior business executives will
attend the event. Never mind the so-called "age of austerity", Davos and its
canapés continue to pull the crowds. Why? John Studzinski, a long-time Davos
devotee and investment banking leader, has one theory. "Being a CEO can be a
lonely existence in terms of trusting ears and advice, so they come to Davos
to meet and talk one-on-one," he says. Davos had become a "self-help" group,
where CEOs trade information and feel solidarity in a hostile world. "It's a
bit like Weight Watchers," he quips. "A place where CEOs can get support."
(...) At Davos some of the business surveys released will show that the
world's CEOs feel pretty cheerful about the outlook for their own companies.
Profits are rising, the US economy is growing and emerging markets are
expanding at a startling pace. But what is striking is that this veneer of
micro-level optimism goes hand in hand with a gnawing insecurity about the
macro picture. This is partly because CEOs are uneasily aware that hostility
towards elites is rising. And while much of this has been focused on
bankers, continued high levels of unemployment have prompted wider concerns
about a bigger backlash in the West. A recent survey of Davos participants
revealed that "social inequality" is the issue delegates most want to
debate. But another reason for the unease is the sheer speed at which power
is shifting across the world amid technological change and the growing
influence of emerging markets. That, in turn, is creating conflicts in areas
ranging from food resources to currencies. "The level of instability goes up
as rebalancing gathers pace," says Dennis Nally, chairman of PwC. Worse
still, CEOs - like everyone else - find it increasingly hard to work out
where the new risks lie. For while the global systems are now more tightly
interconnected than ever (in the sense that shocks can be quickly
transmitted), these systems are also more fragmented (in that few people
understand what is happening in other specialist areas.) The world thus
feels like an increasingly murky, complex and unpredictable place...

Full article at:

The 2011 Davos forum site is here: http://www.weforum.org/

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