The 10 Things We Learned At Davos

The alpine town of Davos in the Swiss Alps.

By Dennis K. Berman

Here’s the scary part about Davos: You schlep to this Swiss redoubt expecting to meet a secret colony of people in the know. But turns out they don’t know either. Which is in fact why they’re here, too — to find and interrogate people who do.

This collective “pinging” feels more akin to a high-frequency trading platform than a seminar devoted to improving the state of the world. The cocktail parties are no more than lubricated information markets, where each node is trying to calibrate itself based on information transmitted and received. What emerges about Europe, or social media, or green energy is eventually rendered a mushy consensus. This is what they might call in Davos the market-clearing price of a thought.

So, what was the mushy consensus?

“Not optimistic. But Less Pessimstic.”

Imminent crisis averted in the Eurozone, dozens of CEOs in private interviews struck a remarkably similar tone about the world economy. It’s banal if only for the scramble of phrases: Some spoke of the timeless “caution,” others declared themselves “not pessimistic but not optimistic either” and “hesitant.” The only honest position seems to be this: No one has a clue.

“Governments don’t create growth. They create circumstances.”

Perhaps the most provocative quote of the week, from an unnamed CEO. Such antipathy was in wide circulation across the week, as CEOs variously complained about financial overregulation, competing international standards, and European governments’ inability to change labor and safety-net laws. The struggle over corporate tax dollars — particularly in the strapped U.S. and Europe — is only beginning. There just doesn’t seem much trust left between government and business, which does not bode well.

via The 10 Things We Learned At Davos – Corporate Intelligence – WSJ.

SA to call for more investment at Davos

CAPE TOWN/SOUTH AFRICA, 10JUN2009 - Jacob Zuma...

South Africa is to use the 2013 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to call for more investment in the country and to boost the continent’s infrastructural projects.

The annual gathering of the world’s political, economic and business leaders takes place against the backdrop of a sluggish global economic recovery. President Jacob Zuma, who leads the country’s delegation, arrived this morning and will use the platform to promote the country’s vision for 2030, the National Development Plan.

The gloomy weather over the Davos resort is perhaps a reminder of the current difficult global economic condition. Themed, ‘The Resilient Dynamism’, that is what top leaders hope to achieve as they put together their heads to get the global economy back on its feet.

As South Africa tackles its triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment, it hopes to use the occasion to lure more investments into the country.

via SABC News.com – SA to call for more investment at Davos:Tuesday 22 January 2013.

Germany taxes Swiss bank accounts

Banknotes of the Swiss franc

Germany and Switzerland signed an amendment to their deal on taxing secret offshore accounts on Thursday, toughening terms for tax dodgers after the main German opposition party blocked the original accord, saying it was too lenient.

The amendment makes it more likely the deal will get the backing from opposition-ruled states and be approved by the German parliament, ending years of tortuous negotiations and netting the country billions of euros.

The German finance ministry said Germany and Switzerland had agreed to raise the retroactive levy on German funds stashed away in Swiss bank accounts to a rate between 21 and 41 percent, from a previously agreed range of 19 to 34 percent.

They also agreed a one-off tax of 50 percent for those who inherit Swiss bank accounts and do not want to declare them, the finance ministry said.

Under the revised deal, German officials will be allowed to put in up to 1300 requests with their Swiss counterparts to investigate cases of fiscal evasion, versus a previously agreed 999.

Germans will have to alert the Swiss authorities when they move their money out of Swiss bank accounts from Jan. 1 2013, versus a previously agreed May 31, in order to prevent an exodus into other offshore accounts.

via Germany, Switzerland revise deal terms – International | IOL Business | IOL.co.za.

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Dubai exports driven by free zones

Dubai - Internet City and Media City

Businesses operating from free zones in Dubai now drive a full 40 per cent of the emirate’s Dh217 billion (US$59bn) export market as the importance of the economic clusters continues to grow.

Companies based in these economic hubs exported or re-exported Dh86bn worth of goods during the first half of the year.

That compares with Dh131bn worth of direct exports and re-exports from local businesses outside the free zones, according to Dubai Exports, an agency under the Government’s Department of Economic Development.

“The start of this year has been very promising, particularly in terms of trade and exports for Dubai,” said Saed Al Awadi, the chief executive of Dubai Exports. “Exports are continuously growing, with some products showing high potential to expand further.”

India alone commanded a 45 per cent share of the value of total exports from Dubai during the first six months of the year, which is up from an average of 40 per cent for all of last year. The country’s appetite for gold and jewellery has helped to make it the top export destination for the emirate.

Switzerland is another popular export destination for the same reason. India and Switzerland together accounted for 87 per cent of Dubai’s precious-metals exports last year.

Demand for Dubai’s commodities has been growing globally as more investors flee to what they perceive are safe alternatives to local stock markets, which have been volatile of late.

Exports of prepared food products, chemicals and cement have also been strong and are expected to grow further, said Mr Awadi.

But the growth of trade from Dubai’s free-zone businesses, in particular, illustrates how much of an effect these companies are having on the local economy.

The first free zone, Jafza,opened 26 years ago at the port of Jebel Ali. This hub, along with others that were launched about that time, were “started initially to promote re-export”, says Jitendra Gianchandani, the chairman and managing partner of Jitendra Consulting Group, which advises businesses about free zones.

Yet many business consultancies have also popped up in newer free zones in recent years.

While the turnover of these consulting services are not included in Dubai Exports data, they are also having a major effect on the local economy, experts say.

More than 50 free-zone companies in the information and communications technology sector alone have expanded their operations this year, said Malek Sultan Al Malek, the managing director of Dubai Outsource Zone and Dubai Internet City.

via Dubai exports driven by free zones – The National.