Friday, February 4, 2011

Leaders gauge economic 'new reality'

DAVOS, Switzerland - Adjusting to the "new reality" framed the backdrop of the World Economic Forum on Tuesday, with about 2,500 business leaders, politicians and social activists looking forward while trying to anticipate unexpected shocks.

"The post-crisis era should not be the pre-crisis era," Forum founder and chairman Klaus Schwab told the Associated Press. "We should have learned and we should avoid the exuberance. One of the key issues will be exactly the question, 'Are we out of the crisis or is it much more an artificial consequence of all the measures which have been undertaken?' "

The annual meeting, which starts today, is focused on the theme "Shared Norms for the New Reality."

Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman Inc., noted that embracing more openness in business, in politics and elsewhere can go a long way in keeping people's trust resilient.

"The recovery of trust in the chief executive is big and that's across the world," he said in speaking of the annual Edelman Trust Barometer released Tuesday. In it, the report, now in its 11th year, found that trust in business was up two percentage points globally since last year, led by surges in Brazil and Germany - where economies have grown strongly.

But in the U.S., trust in government, corporations and media was down by eight percentage points, to just 46 percent of people saying they trusted all of those institutions. Trust in banks all but collapsed.

In the U.S., trust in banks fell from No. 3 in 2008 to second-from-last in 2011. The same was found in Ireland, where banks scored an all-time low for least-trusted industry with only 6 percent expressing trust. In the United Kingdom, trust in banks slid 30 points to 16 percent.

The survey was done by Edelman's research firm StrategyOne from Oct. 11 to Nov. 28 and polled 5,075 people in 23 countries.

The report - one of a slew pegged to the annual Davos meeting - came shortly after U.N. figures said 205 million people were unemployed last year and that little improvement was expected in 2011.

The International Labor Organization said the number of jobless worldwide held steady in 2010 and is forecast to dip less than 1 percent this year to 203.3 million.

There are 27.6 million more people out of work today than when the financial crisis started in 2007, it said.

Still, some executives were upbeat about the post-crisis environment.

PwC's 14th annual Global CEO Survey found that of 1,201 CEOs polled, 48 percent said they were "very confident" about growth in the coming year, more than the 31 percent who had such sentiments a year earlier and nearer to the 50 percent from the 2008 survey.

by Matt Moore and Frank Jordans Associated Press Jan. 26, 2011 12:00 AM

Leaders gauge economic 'new reality'

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