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Daily Beast at Davos

Lagarde: We Can’t Relax

Europe may have avoided total collapse in 2012, but the threat isn’t over, IMF chief Christine Lagarde told a dinner Wednesday hosted by Newsweek & The Daily Beast in partnership with Credit Suisse in Davos.

2013 will be a “make-or-break year for the global economy,” said Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund. “We had a really tough 2012, and yet a lot has happened,” from new policy efforts in Europe to a change of leadership in China. In the coming months, the efforts to calm the financial markets should bear fruit in the real economy, she said: “The question is whether policymakers and governments will continue to implement the policies that they have announced.”

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Newsweek and The Daily Beast editor in chief Tina Brown shares a light moment with IMF chief Christine Lagarde at the Davos dinner on January 23, 2013. (David Biedert for Newsweek & The Daily Beast)

Minutes after delivering a well-received keynote speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Lagarde spoke with Newsweek and The Daily Beast editor in chief Tina Brown at a dinner presented in partnership with Credit Suisse. The event, which highlighted women’s leadership, also featured Egyptian democracy activist Dalia Ziada and was cohosted by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman, and Pamela Thomas-Graham, chief talent, branding, and communications officer at Credit Suisse.

Echoing Davos’s stated theme of “resilient dynamism,” Lagarde, the first woman to lead the IMF, struck a note of guarded optimism. She emphasized the need for vigilance and for policymakers to continue to do better. In her speech, she noted that the IMF expects global growth of just 3.5 percent this year. “The short-term pressures might have alleviated, but the longer-term pressures are still with us,” she said. On Wednesday, she noted, the U.S. Congress announced a deferral of the debt ceiling until May 18. That’s a positive sign, but not nearly good enough. Both the United States and Japan have to focus on a medium-term plan to reduce deficits, Lagarde said. In Europe, she added, “a lot has taken place—too slowly, granted—but a lot has taken place,” She cited the creation of the European stability fund and aggressive monetary policy. While a collapse in 2012 was avoided, “we should make sure we guard against the relapse in 2013,” she said. “Don’t relax.”

Star Spangled

America the Absent

Notably missing from this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos are the U.S. mainstays of years past. Paging Tim Geithner, Hillary Clinton and the Google guys? Daniel Gross on why we’re keeping a low profile.

The U.S. has a relatively muted presence at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. That’s largely because we’re in a time of transition. Davos mainstay Timothy Geithner is on his way out, and Jack Lew, Obama’s pick to replace Geithner as treasury secretary, has yet to be confirmed. In 2008, then-Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice set the tone with a keynote address. The current secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, is stepping down, and anyway, is busy this week with Benghazi hearings back home. Google isn’t throwing its traditional Saturday night bash, nor has it sent its top three execs, known by the mononyms Eric, Larry, and Sergei, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg isn’t in the program. The big U.S. banks that typically swarm the place and host high-profile events are here in much smaller numbers and keeping a much lower profile.

CEO of JPMorgan Chase and Co Jamie Dimon

James "Jamie" Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., speaks during a panel discussion on the opening day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 23, 2013. (Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg, via Getty)

Not everyone agrees with my assessment. One American diplomat, overhearing me bemoan the lack of a U.S. presence to a group of journalists in the main lounge of the Congress Center—a kind of Star Wars bar scene for the international economy—piped in with a gruff “Excuse me.” There were plenty of important officials here, including Federal Trade Commission Chairman John Leibowitz, Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, and Housing Secretary Sean Donovan.

But these people aren’t boldface names, even in Washington.

Schmooze Fest

The Real Deal With Davos

The World Economic Forum kicks off this week, with some 2,600 world leaders sharing ideas, predicting the future and getting drunk. Winston Ross on why any of this matters.

The World Economic Forum kicks off today in the eastern Alps resort known to über-rich people everywhere as Davos, Switzerland. While the event’s title lacks the sex appeal of, say, the G8 Summit, it’s sure to be swimming with the heaviest of global heavy hitters. Twenty-five hundred of them, to be imprecise.

Davos congress center

Davos Congress Center, Jan. 22, 2013. (Johannes Eisele, AFP/Getty)

Why should I care about any of this?

Well, because it’s a gathering of mega-important people.

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See the Complete Program

From Christine Lagarde to Jamie Dimon to Henry Kissinger, check out the full line-up of speakers and events at the 2013 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

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