Monday 23 October 2017

Davos Diary: Making new friends and exploiting the diaspora

Thomas Molloy

Thomas Molloy

THE Taoiseach was in characteristically ebullient form yesterday morning as he rang the gong that opens the European market from CNBC's tent at 8am.

While most people would have been content to give the gong a tap, Mr Kenny preferred to give it a whack that ensured it would be heard across Europe.

Earlier, he and Michael Noonan had breakfast and a half-hour chat with New York stock exchange boss Danny Gross and then a chat with Peter Sutherland.

Banking on Canada

THERE were fewer Irish people at Davos this year than normal, so the Irish did what they always do; make links and exploit the diaspora.

Both Mr Kenny and Mr Noonan met the current governor of the Bank of Canada yesterday as he prepares to take over from Mervyn King at the Bank of England this June.

With a name like Mark Carney, it should be no surprise that the governor has Irish roots and those roots still mean a lot to the new man in Threadneedle Street.

On the inside track

TALKING of Irish roots, Mr Noonan revealed, following a meeting with Christine Lagarde yesterday morning, that he has used his Limerick links to stay in touch with the International Monetary Fund boss.

It seems that Ms Lagarde's personal assistant since her French finance minister days comes from Limerick and her family knows Mr Noonan. Just when it seems the world can't get any smaller, it shrinks again.

Diverse tongues

INTERNATIONAL events such as Davos throw up many riddles. One of them is whether it is an advantage or disadvantage to be a native English speaker.

Listening to David Cameron and Enda Kenny yesterday, alongside worthies such as Mark Rutte from the Netherlands, Helle Thorning-Schmidt from Denmark and Mario Monti from Italy, your diarist was struck by the clarity of thought on display among the continentals.

Samuel Beckett wrote in French to ensure that he would not get too complex and it might be a tactic that Messers Kenny and Cameron could copy.

Both leaders laced their speeches with euro jargon and slang that left many foreigners in the audience struggling to keep up and many English speakers struggling to keep awake. When words come easy, they often seem to mean less.

Badge of honour

GEORGE W Bush has a lot to answer for. Admittedly, his decision to start wearing a childish Stars and Stripes badge on his suit was hardly his worst decision but it has prompted an annoyed wave of imitators.

For years now, presidents and prime ministers at international events have been goaded to wear similar badges. The answer seems to be no. Badges were conspicuously absent in Davos this year. Not one European leader bar Russia's Dmitry Medvedev was sporting one.

Party poopers

THERE were some long faces at Davos yesterday as news sank in that some of the forum's best parties had been cancelled.

Old hands say Google's bash has gone downhill in recent years. Accel has also cancelled its party, but Yahoo will be sponsoring a cocktail evening tonight and your diarist still managed to attend a few other events.

The World Economic Forum's code of conduct takes a very dim view of any company that tries to commercialise the event. That may be a little rich since it charges many participants more than 45,000 Swiss francs to attend.

Quote of the day

"Leadership is the opposite of short-termism" – Italian prime minister Mario Monti

Fact of the day

Europe accounts for 7pc of the world's population, 25pc of GDP and 50pc of all welfare payments – German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Irish Independent

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