Thursday, 21 January 2016

Davos discuss the meltdown

There's a few more interesting topics in the Davos snow today.

With global stock markets going into meltdown yesterday, the comments in Davos about global growth in 2016 being 'disappointing and uneven' might be an understatement.

The supposition of these economists is that growth is being held back by (wait for it!) low productivity, aging populations, and the legacies of the global financial crisis.

That'd be high debt, low investment, and weak banks burdening advanced economies - although all that new money being created by the Central Bank in the Eurozone must surely be for a reason?

I can't help thinking that there's other structural forces at play. The new ways of doing business mean that huge pieces of traditional infrastructure are being impacted. Virtual shopping, Printed cars like the early one below. Public/Private domain distinctions.

No wonder companies sit on $7 trillion of cash - they don't know where to invest/what to develop next. Mergers & acquisitions maybe but capital expenditure less likely, all implying low growth. It does raise a few leadership questions - beyond the bluffers and duffers.

Later today, Cameron will present on UK matters which will certainly include the Brexit debate, and there's already been a session on finance.

For finance the buzzphrase seems to be about fintech a.k.a. financial technology. By comparison 'Regulation' seems to have dropped down the list somewhat, or maybe that's a feature of this type of meeting.

A Davos re-spin of the 2008 financial crash implies it was caused by fragmentation in the regulatory world - huh? - anything but the bankers themselves. Not the highly target-driven twenty-somethings given full access to global markets to trade using other peoples' money. Oh no. And I'm not sure that it has really changed that much?

And here's the thing...Fintech inevitably gets linked to disruptive technologies which, by their nature, are the ones less likely to be regulated. Anyone spot the place to drive the coach and six horse string? (gratuitous Tarantino reference)

A quick example of a digital disrupters is the algorithms used for energy trading and risk management. Might these robot calculations be having a part to play in the current oil pricing? Just because these systems don't look like Cybermen doesn't mean they aren't software driven. And now we should start adding virtual money into the mix - has anyone an inkling of how to regulate that?

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