5 important takeaways from Davos

World Leaders and the most powerful businesspeople hopped on their private jets and headed for home from The World Economic Forum in Davos this weekend.

The planet’s biggest gathering of economic brains has come to a close, after hearing from PM David Cameron, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and IMF director Christine Lagarde, among many others.

If you haven’t really been following Davos, it doesn’t matter because we’ve picked out the best bits.

Osborne defends the Bank of England

Mark Carney’s forward guidance policy has attracted a lot of criticism over recent weeks, particularly as the magic 7% unemployment figure came hurtling towards the horizon last week.

Threadneedle Street had not expected that figure to come around until 2016, and critics are concerned about a hike in interest rates.

“I completely reject that forward guidance has failed” said Osborne.

“We’re talking about exit. That in itself is a mark of success. We’re only having this discussion because there is a recovery under way.

“Monetary policy works and [has] confounded those who said it was never going to work and that we needed other things.”

Boris Johnson looks for “whopping chequebooks”

The Mayor of London took a taxpayer-funded trip to Davos on the lookout for wealthy investors for London projects.

Before he set off he told the Evening Standard: “For the next 48 hours, I will be in the immediate vicinity of the owners of some truly whopping chequebooks. These people are heavy-hitters with the potential to invest billions in our city. I am on a mission to persuade them to invest in projects that would provide new jobs and growth in London.”

We don’t know how he got on yet but in previous years he’s secured funding for the Barclays bike hire scheme, the Emirates cable car, and the ArcelorMittal Orbit.

Davos softens up

The World Economic Forum is increasingly becoming a platform for discussing social issues, as well as economics and business.

This year actress Goldie Hawn led a mindfulness meditation session, as health became a focus.

The importance of improving the health of their own staff was one of the things discussed by multinationals, as well as corporate and social responsibility outside the workplace.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said stress was one of the key challenges. Almost 500,000 people were off work for mental health reasons last year in the UK, it said.

Read our feature on stress in the workplace.

Where are the women?

Only 15% of attendees at Davos this year were women, down from 17% in 2011. The forum introduced a quota to help boost women numbers but this did little to change the overwhelmingly male delegation.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said it was a “chicken and egg” scenario with business being full of “masculine expectations” which needed to change to help women progress. She said if women were not elected to high public office, or chosen to serve in a business capacity, then they would not be in a position to attend a summit like Davos.

Tech on the agenda

As always, the tech industry was one of the most discussed subjects. Bizarrely, this year it was whether robots would take our jobs.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt compared the situation to the industrial revolution and said as technology advanced, more and more workers would lose their jobs.

“The jobs problem will be the defining one of the next ten to twenty years,” he said.

But he said it would be an economic mistake to delay adopting technologies for this reason.

“As more routine tasks are automated, this will lead to much more part-time work in caring and creative industries. The classic 9-5 job will be redefined,” he said.


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