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Answering Your Questions In Davos.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on January 29, 2009

Thanks for sending in all those questions to my post—Fear in Davos. I went around today and asked many of them at the sessions I attended and to people I talked to over coffee, lunch, breakfast and just around the Conference Center.

Here goes in no particular order:

Everyone is terrified of a steep fall in the dollar. Right now, global money is pouring into dollar assets because of a flight to safety by individuals and a flight to self-interest by Chinese and other central banks. They hold so much of their own assets in dollar-denominated debt, they fear it disappearing in a dollar collapse.

Everyone at Davos is asking— What if the Obama economic and financial inititatives don’t work?

Many politicians and policymakers are talking about the future but their solutions are conventional, not innovative. Old categories are being discussed—taxes, government spending, bailouts. There are many sessions on social media, design, innovation, new business models—but they are not connected to the sessions on economic policy. There is a disconnect.

Many people hope China will step up to save the world. Except the Chinese here who are not volunteering for the job. If anything, the Chinese are being wildly optimistic about their growth—and people don’t believe them.

Left and right battles are occurring below the surface of public conversation between those liberals who believe big government spending and regulation will save the global economy and those conservatives who don’t believe it but won’t say so publicly. There is little discussion about alternatives—smart, small government.

Please send in more questions for me to ask.

Reader Comments

The Podler

January 29, 2009 10:48 PM

The stimulus cannot possibly work because it invest in nothing that can create growth and jobs.

Opportunity was missed, for instance, to create a nation-wide fiber optic digital superhighway system and rewire the nation for cheap or free high speed internet. Building a Moon Base would also lead to true economic stimulation because it would create an industry to meet the challenge.

How does the stimulus create incentives for new industries and econ growth centers to arise?

It doesn't. Instead, money is allocated for pork barrel projects like weatherizing houses and education. It is sad that nothing really changed in Washington.

Gong Szeto

January 30, 2009 6:18 AM

i don't have a question (and don't think i haven't tried to come up with one) but rather i'd like to share a lovely piece on-topic, but written in a very refreshing way by bruce sterling:

also in current issue of seed is a nice economy as ecosystem piece - perhaps a global financial disaster warning system (think tsunami's early warning systems that transcend national borders) as the first globally collaborative endeavour. not regulation, not instrument innovation, but a red-alert system that forces a davos-level meeting within hours, not annually. no more deer in the headlights syndrome. ever again.


January 30, 2009 10:43 AM

On your disconnect... Perhaps we have not made a sufficient case for design and design thinking yet.

In the business world unless it is woven into corporate culture, part of management mantra and measured(!), it will always be a "nice to have" - and "nice to haves" are always cut first in hard times.

Imagine how much more difficult it is for the public sector and its leadership. And these are their times.

So we have to think of different ways of measuring design's impact, different nomenclature and ways of communicating relevance (maybe we don't use the word design(!) and talk about growth, community, investment, etc., first).

There is great work being undertaken in this space already - but it needs to be seen as a part of a greater whole of enhancing public services, education, infrastructure, etc.

Maybe we need to talk less about design methodologies and more about the results and what they mean for governments.


January 30, 2009 1:10 PM

Are we connected or socially disconnected…
I personally believe that technology has reduced our social capital—the relationships that bind people together and create a sense of community. Consequences include decreased civility, loss of behavioural boundaries and increased crime. We must find ways to deal with our profound loss of social connectedness.
Even though technological advances have contributed significantly to the problem of isolation, the emphasis on individualism in today’s society has compounded it.

view didier grossemy

David Rankin

January 30, 2009 4:28 PM


Your coverage is great! Thanks for finding the time to do this for us.

If you could ask around, it would be interesting to hear how business leaders are thinking about the resilience of their value chains. How quickly can they shed suppliers (including financial entities that provide working and investment capital) and customers that are dragging their businesses down? More importantly, how quickly do they expect to find new ones that position them well in a recovery? Is there a sense that suppliers and customers are simply commodities, or can they be differentiated by how they are weathering the current storm (I know that the "market" will take care of such things, but I suspect that those firms that succeed in the coming recovery will be in resilient value chains).

I know that this question comes late, but any thoughts would be appreciated.

Paul Hobcraft

February 3, 2009 4:11 PM

I really liked one of the closing remarks from Davos, In the final hosted session by Nic Gowing entitled "The Global Agenda for 2009" one remark at the end summed up Davos.It went something like this "you have to inhale and exhale, all of this week I felt we have been inhaling and we need to go back to finding a balance between the two, by starting with moderate amounts of both to get back this rhythm". I liked that- let innovation bring back the rhythm.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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