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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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, 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.
(If just enough of them reach the corporate boardrooms…)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is without question the most powerful leader in Europe. International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde is one of the most influential figures in the entire global economy. The British still revere (or, in some cases, revile) their enduring Iron Lady, former prime minister Margaret Thatcher. And the Finns had a woman president for so long, Tarja Halonen from 2000 to 2012, that some youngsters in Helsinki were surprised to learn last year that a man could hold the job. Europe has gotten quite accustomed to women leaders in government, and as an idea, but not in business.
That, however, is where they are needed most. Europe is in deep trouble, its economy treading water for the moment, but always threatening to plunge into the abyss of recession and pull much of the rest of the world in after it. Women potentially could come to the rescue if there were more of them, not only in the workforce—where their numbers are high, but their salaries often aren’t—but in top management. They’re needed in the executive suites and on the boards where they’ve traditionally been absent—and where, despite a lot of hot debate and well-intentioned hype, they’re still amazingly rare. On average, 10 percent of the top officers of a European corporation are women, but in many European countries that figure declines dramatically. In Sweden the figure is 21 percent, for instance, while in Germany, just 3 percent. (In the United States it’s 14 percent; in Japan, a pitiful 1 percent.)
Bringing women into senior management is first a matter of exploiting an existing and much-needed pool of talent: 60 percent of Europe’s university graduates are female. “We are an aging society,” European Commission Vice President Viviane Reding told the annual women’s forum in Deauville, France, last fall. “We do not have the right to leave that talent idle.” When Reding asked business schools to come up with a list of women qualified to sit on European corporate boards, they found, as someone once said, binders full of women: 8,000 of them. Yet resistance to putting them on boards continues throughout Europe. (Paradoxically, many of the countries where few women rise to the top of the workforce are also those with very low birthrates and rapidly aging populations. “These countries are very concerned now that they won’t have enough workers to pay for aging societies,” says Monika Queisser of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD]. “They are really worried. And when faced with the choice of letting women work or getting migrants in, the less bad option for them is to let women work.” But that backhanded reasoning is hardly enough to bring change.)
Women are needed to help corporations deal with an increasingly unpredictable business environment. “We strongly believe that the more uncertain the world is, the more diverse you need the management to be,” says Agnès Audier of the Boston Consulting Group. This diversity can come from different nationalities or simply different styles, but one of the most obvious ways to assure it is through different genders.
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(If just enough of them reach the corporate boardrooms…)