The latest from Davos
By Ian Bremmer OK, maybe it’s a bit gloomier at Davos than I suggested in my first installment. But that could be because I attended the “36 hours in September” dinner and listened to the blow by blow on how it all went wrong for the global markets. All the economists (Stephen Roach, Nouriel Roubini, Robert ...
By Ian Bremmer
OK, maybe it’s a bit gloomier at Davos than I suggested in my first installment. But that could be because I attended the “36 hours in September” dinner and listened to the blow by blow on how it all went wrong for the global markets. All the economists (Stephen Roach, Nouriel Roubini, Robert Shiller), unshackled from the yoke of Wall Street ebullience, truly embraced their inner dismal scientist. There was plenty of blame to go around — bankers, hedge funds, ratings agencies, regulatory agencies — thankfully leavened at the end by Princeton psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who essentially said that we’re not actually that bad as people.
Also making news were the Chinese and Russian premiers, the afternoon keynotes. That made for a very different feel for the post-mortem on the day’s sessions. Of the two, Wen Jiabao acquitted himself more effectively; looking like a statesman, promising no recession for China (even if it’s an irrelevant formulation, the audience appreciated it), and keeping the finger-pointing to a comparative minimum. Putin got the quote of the day, though, offering that we should beware state intervention in the world’s economies. Former president Clinton, not quite able to resist being goaded, said “I hope that works out for him.”
The other side of that coin is the comparative absence of the Obama administration — not even Larry Summers, who is a fixture here, but apparently has an economy to fix. The economic officials keeping to Washington have generally been seen here as responsible, but with the importance of the meeting and the number of senior state officials here, you have to wonder why they decided to pull National Security Advisor Jim Jones at the last minute.
I’d have had more to say by this point, but I’ve been busy prepping to chair a session on the “new great game” with the heads of state of Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. It’s interesting in the context of World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab’s opening missive that the present crisis requires a holistic, global response. Because if there’s any place you’re not going to see unified global leadership, it’s the Eurasia heartland. The panel runs an hour, Turkey and Armenia don’t have diplomatic relations, Armenia and Azerbaijan are in the middle of tense negotiations over the contested territory of Nagorno Karabakh, and we’ve got three languages being translated simultaneously. It’s…challenging. Presuming it goes well, I’ll write about it after.
Interestingly, while I was typing, an old friend and journalist from Turkey stopped by (easiest to blog at the little kiosks they set up all over the place) and said that the Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers met three times on Wednesday and that the news looks promising. It’s not a complete surprise, as the Turks used to use Davos all the time to advance the relationship with Greece. Maybe here’s the Armenia breakthrough (especially since the Turks want to be seen as proactive before April 24th, the genocide commemoration, so that Obama doesn’t take them on). I’m asking her to backchannel and see what she can get.
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Ian Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. He is also the host of the television show GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Bremmer is the author of eleven books, including New York Times bestseller Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism, which examines the rise of populism across the world. His latest book is The Power of Crisis: How Three Threats—and Our Response—Will Change the World. Twitter: @ianbremmer
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