A personal finance columnist for the NZ Herald

Inside Money: Where in the WEF - NZ's place in the growing world

Swiss police patrol outside of the Congress Center, prior to the opening of the 44. Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland. Photo / AP
Swiss police patrol outside of the Congress Center, prior to the opening of the 44. Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland. Photo / AP

Due to some administrative oversight I, again, wasn't one of the 225 press representatives invited to attend the 44th World Economic Forum (WEF) showing in Davos this week.

"Business participation at about 1,500 is drawn from over twenty industry groups," the WEF blurb says. "The most highly represented stakeholder group is Government with 288 participants, with Banking and Capital markets (230) and the Media Leaders (225) next on the list."

Even so, I had more chance of getting an invite to Davos than anybody from 'Arts and Culture' with only eight leaders of this important sector earning a ticket to WEF.

Likewise, the once-mighty 'Pulp and Paper' industry is represented at Davos by only three individuals, the lowest of any of the 29 business sectors attending WEF this year.
But the decline of pulp and paper is, perhaps, indicative of the digital age (IT, for example, has 111 bums on seats at Davos 2014) and the rise of new-fangled business models and growth paradigms.

Indeed, one of the many reports churned out by WEF takes a look at this very issue. Titled 'New Growth Models: Challenges and steps to achieving patterns of more equitable, inclusive and sustainable growth', the report - authored by a WEF sub-committee that includes Amanda Ellis, Ambassador of New Zealand to the UN, and Prime Minister's Special Envoy, Permanent Mission of New Zealand - adopts an optimistic stance despite admitting that "existing growth patterns, most believe, will not work as the global economy triples in size".

"It maybe slight exaggeration, but the mindset will likely become similar over time to the endowment model of managing assets where the core principal is that income from the endowment should not decrease its real value over time," the report says. "In other terms, it is an investment model with a long time horizon and a zero or very low discount rate."

The report addresses five particular areas that could shift the world economy slowly towards the above ideal growth model, one of which is a multi-lateral approach to global financial systems.

Headed 'Finance: more investment, less leverage', the section proposes "a WTO [World Trade Organisation]-like framework" as "a good model for an international agreement on investment that enables more rapid capital formation with less volatility and incidence of financial distress".

"Designing international financial frameworks for a world that is periodically seriously out of balance is a complex undertaking, one that has just begun," the report says.

Maybe this is one of the topics Bill English will be canvassing during his week-long sojourn in Switzerland.

Playing with this nifty WEF website tool that tracks Davos attendees, I initially thought another administrative oversight had left English, and New Zealand, off the map. But if you shift the map a little (NZ suffers from being at the bottom far right of the world) the country turns up and with it, English - magnification helps too.

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A personal finance columnist for the NZ Herald

David is a freelance journalist who has covered the financial services business on both sides of the Tasman for over 15 years. He is the editor of industry website Investment News. David has edited magazines and websites for the financial advice, investment and superannuation industries.

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