Sunday, January 22, 2012

Identifying the problem to exacerbate it

Some 1,600 economic and political leaders, including 40 heads of states and governments, will be asked to come up with new ideas as they converge at Davos, chic ski station in eastern Switzerland, for the 42nd annual World Economic Forum (WEF), which opens coming Wednesday.

"The main conversation will be about a deficit of leadership in Europe as a prime problem," said John Quelch, the dean of China European International Business School.

There's have been dozens of meetings, initiatives and promises in Europe. So, there is plenty of leadership; what it lacks is coherence, and most importantly, honesty. The leaders seem to admit there exists a credibility gap, but deny their role in bringing it about:

"We have a general morality gap, we are over-leveraged, we have neglected to invest in the future, we have undermined social coherence, and we are in danger of completely losing the confidence of future generations," said Klaus Schwab, host and founder of the WEF. "Solving problems in the context of outdated and crumbling models will only dig us deeper into the hole", he added.

Klaus Schwab. Worried at Davos.
At the upcoming meeting the economic and political elites will seek ways to reform a capitalist system they believe is "outdated and crumbling." EU is crumbling, sure, but to call capitalism outdated is another attempt to avoid responsibility; Europe has given up on capitalism some time ago. Over a decade ago it decided to pursue the so-called "Third way", between capitalism and socialism. (Check out this prescription by Tony Blair and Gerhard Schroeder from 1999).

An article from the semi-official 'Third Way' website published in October 2011 admits the problem: "Ten years ago, Europe faced a looming debt crisis but economically, fiscally, and demographically they buried their heads in the sand, were afraid to confront voters with the truth about their fiscal situation, and now face draconian measures that may not even be enough."

I'm sure blaming the current mess on "outdated, crumbling capitalism" will work out better this time around.

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