PROBLEMS and opportunities within the global financial system dominated the International Financial Services Summit in Dublin yesterday.
Several speakers discussed the Group of 20 summit, which opens in South Korea today. Others pointed to the explosion in the developing world's population, which they said would make the West less important in the coming decades.
The clash between the US and China over the two countries' currencies was the main theme. Several experts from Asia contemplated possible mechanisms to reform the world's currencies.
The big picture came from Subitha Subramaniam, an economist at Sarasin & Partners, who said the US and European Union would soon account for just 30pc of global trade.
She pointed out that whereas Europe had 24pc of the world's population in 1950, this was now just 12pc and would fall to 8pc within a generation.
The rise of China and other Asian countries was very much on the minds of several speakers but they questioned whether the G20 summit would be able to reach any conclusion because there was strong disagreement about the origins of the problems.
"Without agreement on the causes, you can't have agreement on the solutions," said academic Linda Yueh of Oxford University.
"The bottom line is that US dollar policy makes sense for the US and China's policy makes sense for China -- but it doesn't make sense for many other countries," she added.
Gillian Tett, an associate editor of the 'Financial Times', placed Ireland's problems in an international context, saying she felt sorry for the country as it had made many moves to solve its problems but was still vulnerable to what happened overseas.
Ireland felt a little like Japan in the late 1990s, said the 'Financial Times' former Tokyo bureau chief, who has relatives here. She added that people in Ireland also lacked faith in the future.
Ireland, she said, had chosen a different path to Japan. It had been up-front about the scale of the problem -- but this had still not been enough.
Her advice was simple; "Stay the course. A short, sharp shock is unpleasant" -- but a lost decade without growth would be even worse.