Belfast Telegraph

Davos delegates feel chilly winds of gloom

By Margaret Canning

Dubbed the world's biggest networking event - where everyone's on the look out for someone more important to talk to - the World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland was light on laughs yesterday.

US economist Nouriel Roubini told delegates that Britain and parts of the eurozone remain at risk of a double-dip recession, finding his doom-laden theory backed up by an unexpected 0.5% drop in GDP which emerged on Tuesday.

He said he could detect a sort of double tier recovery - or as he put it, a 'glass half full, glass half empty' scenario, with developed and developing countries showing signs of recovery but advanced economies like the UK facing increasingly leaner times.

As he was one of the few practitioners of the dismal science to predict 2007's almighty crash, he may be worth listening to, unpalatable though his views may be.

Yet despite vocal arguments that the coalition programme of cuts may do more harm than cut, Mr Roubini seemed in favour of austere times and draconian policy responses for getting economies back on track.

His audience includes former US President Bill Clinton, French president Nicolas Sarkozy and company heads like Sir Terry Leahy of Tesco and Marc Bolland of M-amp;S.

Hopefully all will enjoy some light relief in the form of a talk on social networking and its likely effects on the world.

Plus all the distinguished guests at Davos, which has been hosting the forum since 1970, will be availing of a welcome pack, which reportedly includes crampons for icy pavements and the opportunity for fondue master classes.

Hopefully there is also some protection against the cold winds of pessimism.