Page last updated at 19:03 GMT, Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Live: World Economic Forum 2009

Steve Howard of The Climate Group addresses a session of the WEF (28 January 2009)

By David Gritten

Live coverage of the first day of the 2009 World Economic Forum at the Swiss mountain resort of Davos. We will be bringing you news, insights from BBC correspondents, some of your emails and Twitter, and the best of the blogs. (All times GMT, CET -1)

1820 Now that Mr Putin has finished speaking and participants have begun to head off to various soirees, we are going to end our live coverage of the World Economic Forum for today. We will resume at 0800 GMT on Thursday, but until then you can keep up to date with events in Davos on our website's in-depth page or by following Tim Weber's fascinating tweets.

Stephanie Flanders
1815 BBC economics editor Stephanie Flanders says: There used to be something symbolic in Davos, all those movers and shakers going to the mountains to talk about capitalism being on top. This year the more apt feature is the fog. No one knows where the world is going, but they are fairly sure that it is in the opposite direction to the one before. When the fog finally lifts, some here fear there won't be much of a global market economy left.

1810 Kenneth Rogoff, a professor at Harvard University and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, tells the BBC that there needs to be "very dramatic, forceful action" to help fix the global economy. He also warns that worrying about inflation now is like "worrying about the measles when you might get the plague".

1800 In his keynote address, Mr Putin describes the global economic crisis as "the perfect storm" and called on the world to avoid sliding into isolationism or "economic selfishness". "Regardless of their political or economic system, all nations have found themselves in the same boat," he says. Mr Putin also argues that the world needs a range of reserve currencies and more policy openness in the countries which issue them. Countries should try to avoid the "blind belief" that the state can solve all problems, he adds.


Vladimir Putin warned against isolationism as a result of the financial crisis

1745 Ahead of a speech by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the president of Switzerland says the financial crisis and economic downtown have made it dramatically clear that growth should be built on shared values. "The notion of more of the same, must be replaced with more of something better," Hans-Rudolf Merz adds.

1740 William Daley, head of corporate responsibility for JPMorgan Chase, tells the BBC: "We have a responsibility to help our economy come out of the difficulties. We can't do that by putting our shareholders, our company, our employees or our company at risk."

Robert Peston
BBC business editor Robert Peston blogs: Here's some mildly encouraging news. I interviewed George Soros, the hedge-fund legend, this afternoon - and he thinks most of the bad stuff about the UK is in the price of sterling. Or, as he put it, he thinks that sterling may have fallen enough, for now. That said, Soros had no qualms about using the "D" word: he says a full scale depression remains a very real risk. Read Peston's Picks.

1730 US President Barack Obama says businesses and workers are counting on his administration for "bold and swift" action to help the US economy recover. Speaking after meeting business leaders in Washington, and before a vote in the House of Representatives, Mr Obama said his plan would lay the foundations for long-term growth and help create a favourable climate for American business to thrive.

1725 Charles Dallara, the managing director of the Institute of International Finance (IIF), tells the BBC that world leaders need to support emerging markets as well as their own. "It's going to be a very grim year, but we can take action, collectively in a co-ordinated fashion - led by the G20, the World Bank and the IMF - to try to stabilise the financial and economic environment for these countries."

Nik Gowing
1720 The BBC's Nik Gowing says: The word from talking to delegates in the past few hours is that there is clear evidence inside China of big infrastructure projects being started up. They have a $2.5 trillion (1.75 trillion) trade surplus and so have plenty of money to increase government spending.

Bridget Kendall
1710 The BBC's Bridget Kendall says: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao looked confident and composed as he addressed assembled delegates, now and again raising a finger as though a sage offering admonishments. His main message was an appeal for renewed confidence, co-operation and hope, to try to stem downward trends worldwide - an unusually upbeat appeal in the context of this year's rather anxious gathering.

1645 World Bank managing director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala tells the BBC: "The forecasts are all pointing to the fact that we're going to have at least a year of great difficulty, and possibly two to three, if not more... I think every expert that has spoken in Davos has said that this is much worse than they had thought."

Stephanie Flanders
1630 BBC economics editor Stephanie Flanders says: Not so long ago, leaders at Davos used to tell poor countries that the market would be the answer to their problems. Now, it's a much harder sell.

BBC Radio 4 Today programme presenter Evan Davis blogs: There are two big pluses to this event: one is that there are scores of cultural, social and scientific discussions and lectures. These "fringe" events are invariably the most interesting things on the schedule. Secondly, it is very cold and snowy - thus forcing everybody to dress in silly boots and bear-like coats that automatically strip even masters of the universe of a bit of their dignity. Read Evan Davis' blog.

Tim Weber
1620 The BBC's Tim Weber says: There was a huge demand to watch Wen Jiabao's speech. The congress hall was totally packed with 15 minutes to go, and a surge of chief executives tried to reach the large overflow room to listen to him.

1615 Mr Wen concludes his speech by saying that the world must "draw lessons from the crisis and address its root causes". "In other words, we must strike a balance between savings and consumption between financial innovation and regulation and between the financial sector and the real economy," he adds.

1610 Mr Wen says China has acted swiftly to adjust its economy and had ended last year with a growth rate of 9%. He adds that with hard work he still believes China can reach its target growth rate of 8% in the coming year, even though this would be a "tall order".

The BBC's Tanya Beckett tweets: The Chinese premier says confidence is the source of strength. Read TanyaBeckett's tweets.

1605 Mr Wen says "inappropriate macro-economic policies", including low savings rates and high consumption, were among the causes. He also cites the "failure of financial supervision and regulation to keep up with innovation", which he says "allowed financial derivatives to spread".

1555 In a speech at Davos, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says the global economic crisis is having a "big impact" on his country and poses "major challenges". "The ongoing international financial crisis has landed the world economy in the most difficult situation since last century's Great Depression," he adds.


Wen Jiabao describes how China is tackling the financial crisis

The BBC's Tim Weber tweets: #Davos Of course there's always George Soros to cheer us all up: Crisis is worse than the 1930s. Oh that's ok, then. Read tim_weber's tweets.

1550 Stephen Green, the chairman of HSBC and one of few high-profile financiers to attend, says: "There are no magic wands and even crystal balls are in short supply."

1545 European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet says the G20 is doing "good work" in attempting to rebuild the global financial system, but that profound reforms are needed. "Everybody can see the present system is too fragile, and we have to reintroduce an element of resilience... and we need to do that without any consideration of any kind of vested interest," he tells Reuters.

The BBC's Nik Gowing tweets: #Davos: World Bank MD Ngozi [Okonjo-Iweala] tells me there is clarity on nature of econ crisis, but a race to take action to prevent Depression. Read NikGowing's tweets.

1530 Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corporation and a co-chair of this year's conference, tells an opening-day news conference that the economic crisis is "getting worse". "It's going to take drastic action to turn it around, if it can be turned around quickly," he adds. Nevertheless, Mr Murdoch warns: "Don't let's lose sight of what creates wealth. It is open markets, it is capitalism."

Tim Weber
1520 The BBC's Tim Weber says: Panellists at one session agreed that monetary policy and a co-ordinated global regulatory framework were key to getting the global economy back on track. "If it walks like a bank and quacks like a bank, then it should be regulated like a bank," said one participant, who also mused that in five or 10 years some hedge funds might find themselves under much closer scrutiny.

1510 Rahul Bajaj, chairman of Indian car manufacturer Bajaj Auto, tells the BBC that the Indian economy has avoided the worst of the downturn so far. "We are not an isolated island, but growth is based essentially on domestic demand," he says. India's main problem has been the withdrawal of credit lines, he adds.

1450 Following on from Tim Weber's tweet below, B B Heli in Zurich, which provides helicopter flights to Davos, told the New York Times that business was still strong, but that more passengers were opting for a single-engine helicopter rather than the faster twin-engine model, saving themselves $4,250 (3,000).

The BBC's Tim Weber tweets: #Davos: one chief executive says: I refused to take helicopter here from Zurich airport - out of principle and because it doesn't look good. Read tim_weber's tweets.

e-mail sent in by reader
Eddie D, Essex, UK says: The problem with world leaders getting together is that they focus on issues at a very high level. With global approaches to problem solving, it is difficult to hold anyone accountable for actual delivery. More of your comments.

Bridget Kendall
1430 The BBC's Bridget Kendall says: In contrast to the mood of upbeat self-congratulation which usually surrounds this gathering, this year's Davos summit is shrouded in sombre introspection. One of the grimmest warnings came from former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who told the BBC that politicians, bankers and the business community could not continue as usual. "The status quo cannot work," he said.

1405 The IMF says a gradual recovery should start in 2010, but BBC economics correspondent Andrew Walker stresses that this depends critically on strong policy actions, especially those directed towards restoring financial stability.

1400 The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warns that the world is facing its most severe economic downturn since World War II. In its latest forecast, the organisation says it expects the global growth rate to be only 0.5% this year. With population growing faster, this would in real terms mean a decline in output per person.

1355 South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel tells the BBC that international trade is becoming increasingly difficult and that overseas development aid to Africa is being cut because of the global economic crisis. "Already, we are some $240bn (167bn) short of the commitments made at [the 2005 G8 summit in] Gleneagles," he says.

The BBC's Tanya Beckett tweets: Just been denied a limo on the basis that I am b list. Must be the crunch to blame surely. Read TanyaBeckett's tweets.

1350 The BBC says it regrets that IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei has cancelled two interviews at Davos in protest at the corporation's decision not to broadcast a charity appeal for Gaza. "Our audiences around the world remain interested in what he has to say about a range of topics and we hope he will accept an invitation at another time," a spokeswoman says.

FionaGraham tweets:What can I say... Is Pascal Lamy a man who knows a hat or what... Read FionaGraham's tweets.

1345 Mr Lamy tells the BBC that with the world now in recession, the WTO is concerned about member-states taking unilateral protectionist measures which would exacerbate the economic slowdown. "History has shown very, very clearly that protectionism would make things worse. Now, coping with this crisis, you need stimulus packages, you need more discipline in financial regulations - but you need to keep trade open," he says.

1340 Pascal Lamy, the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), tells the BBC that in his opinion we are already in a global recession. "The numbers are getting worse and worse, and we don't know for how long," he says. "We have exactly the same picture on trade. Trade is decreasing extremely rapidly, both because of shrinking economies and because of the lack of trade finance, another consequence of the financial crisis."


Pascal Lamy on the need for trade to continue despite a global recession

casinclair tweets: Watching western financial leaders getting lectured to by politicians and emerging market leaders is fun. Media is salivating. Read casinclair's tweets.

1330 Newly-appointed US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's call for China to loosen restrictions on its currency has been criticised. Stephen Roach, Morgan Stanley's Asia Chairman, told a WEF panel that allowing the yuan to strengthen would be "economic suicide". "I've never seen an economy in recession voluntarily raise their currency. It's horrible advice," he added.

e-mail sent in by reader
Tibor, Neuss, Germany says: Returning the market to real values from this hocus-pocus economy is the subject now. As all participants would be hurt by the consequences of it, nobody will even talk about it. More of your comments.

The BBC's Tim Weber tweets: #Davos voices part 3: "Irrational exuberance has been replaced by irrational despair" - but he also says the fin. system has badly failed. Read tim_weber's tweets.

1320 There are no goody bags at this year's World Economic Forum. Instead, participants have been given pedometers. Andre Schneider, a managing director at the WEF, told the Wall Street Journal that the gadgets were intended to be "a joyful way to get people walking" and to counter annual criticism of its efforts to combat climate change.

comment from blogger
Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of the advertising group WPP, blogs on the Financial Times: On the face of it, there seem to be more policywonks this year than CEOs. With 40 government heads here this year, maybe this is in effect a warm-up for the G20 in London in April. Read Sir Martin on

1300 The International Labour Organisation (ILO) says as many as 51 million jobs worldwide could be lost this year because of the global economic crisis. That would push up the world's unemployment rate to 7.1% by the end of 2009, compared with 6.0% in 2008. The ILO says developing countries will suffer most from the additional losses.

1255 The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohammed ElBaradei, has cancelled two interviews with the BBC at Davos in protest at the corporation's decision not to broadcast a charity appeal for Gaza. His spokeswoman said she believed the BBC's decision violated the rules of basic human decency.

1245 Sir Howard Davies, the director of the London School of Economics, tells the BBC that for the global economy to recover, governments need to stop Asian savers funding US spending. "We do have to find a way globally to sort out these massive imbalances, with the Chinese having an enormous saving rate and the US having a negative saving rate," he says.

Robert Peston
BBC business editor Robert Peston blogs: The gloom here from business leaders, private-equity specialists, hedgies, bankers, management consultants and economists is deep and unrelenting. I'd be tempted to come home immediately and climb under the duvet, except for one thing: when the herd is charging in a particular direction, the herd is normally wrong. Read Peston's Picks.

1225 Stephen Schwarzman, chairman of the leading private equity company, the Blackstone Group, says that 40% of the world's wealth was destroyed in last five quarters. "It is an almost incomprehensible number," he says. "Business will be very different."

e-mail sent in by reader
Borjan, Zagreb, Croatia says: If these leaders really wanted change, they would lift banking secrecy so anyone getting rich quick would have to justify what he's done. More of your comments.

The BBC's Tim Weber tweets: #Davos voices pt 2: "People are in formal business dress, they don't want to be seen by shareholders to be relaxing and taking it easy" Read tim_weber's tweets.

1210 Companies are viewed as less trustworthy than a year ago and consumers want governments to play a greater role in business, according to a poll by Edelman, the public-relations agency. "Business really has to work its way back. It has to re-earn the trust of its broad sets of constituents," its chief executive, Richard Edelman, tells the BBC. "I think we have moved from a shareholder society to a stakeholder society, and that has massive implications."

Nik Gowing
1200 The BBC's Nik Gowing says: I have just been to a closed-door meeting discussing the state of the banking community, and I can tell you there is a realisation that it has got to change big time.

The BBC's Tim Weber tweets: #Davos voices during the lunch-break: "The buzz is gone, it's very muted, people are worried" "We are in for a rough ride in 2009" Read tim_weber's tweets.

1145 A senior executive at the US recruitment firm, Manpower, tells the BBC that there are four million unfilled jobs across Europe. "The real challenge is finding the right skill, at the right time, at the right place to fill those jobs," Barbara Beck says.

e-mail sent in by reader
Andrew, Barcelona, Spain says: The politicians who will "star" at this event have no better ideas to cure the crisis than by freeing up credit so we can all get back to buying stuff we don't need. More of your comments.

1130 Along with Vladimir Putin and Wen Jiabao, other top political figures set to appear at the forum include UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Altogether, the leaders of at least 40 countries will make it up the mountain, up from 27 last year and 20 in 2007. US President Barack Obama is a little too busy to attend, but he is sending Valerie Jarrett, a top White House aide.

The BBC's Tim Weber tweets: Ties, ties everywhere. Once banned, they are making a comeback. Serious times demand a serious dress code in #Davos. Read tim_weber's tweets.

1115 Many people are asking if the stimulus packages announced by developed nations are going to be enough to pull the world out of the economic crisis. "Based upon our experience in Japan, capital injection is needed, but this is not enough," said Heizo Takenaka, the director of the Global Security Research Institute at Keio University. "What we need now is accurate assessment of assets."

comment from blogger
Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan blogs in the Wall Street Journal: We need to ensure the poorest in the planet - who will be hardest hit by the financial crisis - are not forgotten. Read Kofi Annan on

1200 The BBC's Nik Gowing says: I've just seen an enormous motorcade arrive carrying the Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao.

The BBC's Nik Gowing tweets: #Davos. Strong voices that financial instn board members inc banks do not have members that understand details of v complex finance products. Read NikGowing's tweets.

Robert Peston
BBC business editor Robert Peston blogs: Many of those here see themselves (still perhaps a touch hubristically?) as helping to shape the agenda for April's meeting in London of the G20 group of leading nations. I have to say that bankers are rather less optimistic about what the politicians can achieve than the politicians themselves. Read Peston's Picks.

1035 The World Economic Forum is run as a not-for-profit member-based organisation. The paying members are about 1,000 big companies, who cough up 42,500 Swiss francs ($37,000; 26,000) for the privilege. They also have to pay another 18,000 Swiss francs ($16,000; 11,000) to get into the Davos gathering. Non-business participants attend meetings for free.

The BBC's Tanya Beckett tweets: I am at a press conference, with Kofi Annan and Rupert Murdoch. Interesting pairing. Read TanyaBeckett's tweets.

1015 A new survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers suggests that business leaders are suffering a "crisis of confidence" and believe global economic recovery will be sluggish over the next three years. Just 21% of the 1,120 chief executives polled said they were confident about growing revenues over the next year.

The BBC's Tim Weber tweets: Yet another oversubscribed session - on how to regulate financial markets. huge queue, just managed to squeeze in. Read tim_weber's tweets.

1000 The five days of the conference - from 28 January to 1 February - are filled with discussions, lectures and workshops. The Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao are expected to give keynote speeches later on Wednesday.

e-mail sent in by reader
Hassan, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania says: Davos won't make any difference to the world's social, political and economical affairs, just like the IMF and the World Bank have failed to bring any tangible contribution. More of your comments.

0935 Angel Gurria, the secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), tells the BBC that he expects to see positive growth by 2010. However, he says he expects rising unemployment and lower growth during 2009.

0920 The BBC's Lesley Curwen in Davos reports: The snowy Alpine background may look the same, but the landscape of the financial world has changed beyond recognition since the last meeting. Some companies have been wiped out, while others have been rescued by governments or nationalised. This year, it seems, ministers and bureaucrats are the masters of the universe here.

0915 To further compound the gloom, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is later expected to slash its forecast for world economic growth in 2009 to just 0.5%. It is also predicting a deeper-than-expected recession in industrialised countries. In October, the IMF had predicted that world output would increase by 2.2% this year.

The BBC'sTim Weber tweets:#Davos session on state of economy has just ended; it's been the gloomiest, most doomladen session yet. Even old optimists sound depressed. Read tim_weber's tweets.

0905The founder of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, tells the BBC: We have now a mass crash and we have to figure out first how we help those injured by it. Secondly, we have to find out what rules we find out for the future in order to avoid this happening again.


Klaus Schwab says the meeting is about finding solutions to the downturn

e-mail sent in by reader
Brian, Haltom City, TX says: I remain optimistic that the participants of the forum will leave having gained some kind of knowledge about how to solve the current difficulties. More of your comments.

Tanya Beckett
0845The BBC's Tanya Beckett says: The economic freeze has well and truly reached Davos. People arriving have been very keen on their first day to know not what economic forecasts are going to be presented, but what the basis is for moving forward, and how on earth politicians are going to get the banks lending again.

0835 The theme of this year's conference is "shaping the post-crisis world", and the guest list has certainly been affected by the global economic downturn of the past 12 months. There will be fewer top executives among the expected 2,500 participants, and government officials will doubtless be more in the spotlight. Even celebrities, such as the rock star Bono, are giving this year a miss.

0830 Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the first day of the 2009 World Economic Forum at the Swiss mountain village of Davos. We will be updating this page throughout the day, bringing you insights from BBC correspondents, some of your emails and Twitter, and the best of the blogs.

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