Saturday 19 August 2017

David McWilliams: Lessons from sporting legends can keep businesses on the ball

Can Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane transform Ireland's fortunes?

The hotel ballroom is jammed. And this isn't any old ballroom but the ballroom of the Al Faisalya Hotel in Riyadh – the most posh hotel in a city of posh hotels. I am writing this from the foyer of the hotel, having just finished a speech to Arab investors on the global economy in 2014.

These people manage billions of dollars, deploying the country's oil fortune in the financial markets to generate a return for future generations. The discussion jumped between the fate of the dollar, the likely move in US interest rates and whether the new Fed boss Janet Yellen will "taper" next year? There was much talk about what Germany would do now that it has inflation and the rest of the eurozone has deflation; would the Germans tolerate a possible ECB rate cut?

The conversation was the typical diet of financial market players – that was until the end. Just as I was finished, one guy comes up to the podium and asked the question that had been on his mind all morning.

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