Davos Diary: Peace through prosperity...
Thursday 27 January 2011
Klaus Schwab, the founder of the Davos get-togethers, has almost messianic status among delegates to the World Economic Forum's meetings in Switzerland each year, and some would do almost anything to get on the right side of him. Still, how credible is the campaign being waged in the corridors of the Davos Congress Centre to nominate Schwab for the Nobel Peace Prize? We all know it's economics that makes the world go round, but still.
A subject dear to their hearts
Davos is notoriously expensive to get into, and it is fair say that most delegates probably fall into the ranks of those on the highest rates of tax. Maybe that explains the nervous titter of laughter following a weary interjection from the floor in one debate about the standard of US education. "Last year, 25 hedge fund managers earned more than all the teachers in New York City combined," said the questioner. "If there are any hedge fund managers in the room, perhaps they'd consider paying a little more tax."
Time for a great leap forward
And the prize for the most unlikely quote of the day goes to Arianna Huffington, the US-based blogger who has always been associated with the more conservative wing of US politics. "I'd cite the great British Prime Minister Lloyd George," said Huffington, asked for her views on how to get the West back to work. "You can't jump across a great chasm in two leaps."
Winding up the Indian car buyer
We love the story told by Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro, to illustrate how Western companies don't always get the Indian market. When Ford, he explained, decided to make a big move into India, it decided to pare down a $20,000 model it made in the US to a $15,000 version for Asia, which it figured would be more affordable. One money-saving idea was to get rid of the electric windows in the back of the car. What Ford hadn't realised was that a $15,000 car would be the preserve of Indians wealthy enough to employ a driver – most of whom were unimpressed with the fact that their staff had automatic windows while they were stuck in the back with old-fashioned winders.
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