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Heard in Davos 2012: Dispatches from the Conference

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  Wednesday, 25 Jan 2012 | 12:20 PM ET

How to Avoid Worst of All Worlds: Pay Poorest More

Posted By: Catherine Boyle

The financial crisis, social unrest, and upcoming elections in some of the world’s biggest democracies have increased the risk of dystopia in the world, a panel of experts told the World Economic Forum Wednesday.

Signs to Heaven and Hell
Signs to Heaven and Hell

Dystopia – defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “an imaginary place or condition in which everything is as bad as possible” – is usually the stuff of end-of-days science fiction novels.

Yet there is a chance that it could become reality unless governments around the world tackle employment and wage levels , according to high-level economists, human rights campaigners and union officials.

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  Wednesday, 25 Jan 2012 | 11:10 AM ET

Commentary: Demanding a New Breed of Leadership

Posted By: Beth Brooke|Global Vice Chair, Public Policy, Ernst HKSCKPVIamp; Young
A sign of the World Economic Forum (WEF) is seen at the Congress center in the Swiss resort of Davos on January 24, 2012.
Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images
A sign of the World Economic Forum (WEF) is seen at the Congress center in the Swiss resort of Davos on January 24, 2012.

The World Economic Forum \(WEF\), convening this week in Davos , recognizes that our globalized world demands a new style of leadership. The old, hierarchical command-and-control approach is increasingly outdated. Instead, the ability to seek out diverse viewpoints and identify blind spots has become essential.

Today’s inclusive leaders know that they don’t have all the answers. They’re interested in and engage with diverse stakeholders across multiple borders. Recent Ernst & Young research,The World is Bumpy: globalization and the new strategies for growth , highlights this leadership shift with two-thirds of the 1,000 executive respondents saying that they will increase the number of external partners with whom they work over the next three years.

To lead by example, the WEF has committed to more diversity among attendees and presenters, including a new mandate, instituted last year, which requires the Forum’s 100 strategic partners to bring at least one female executive among the five delegates they send to Davos. It’s a work in progress but, more than ever, they understand that diverse perspectives matter when trying to improve the state of the world.

Underpinning the need for a new style of leadership are the demographic shifts that represent one of the most powerful forces in the world. The makeup of our global workforce is changing across multiple dimensions and the leaders of tomorrow will come from the under-represented demographics of today.

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  Wednesday, 25 Jan 2012 | 8:07 AM ET

Roubini: Europe Needs 'Massive Monetary Easing'

Posted By: Antonia Oprita

Europe needs "massive monetary easing" to get out of its debt crisis, otherwise Greece will likely abandon the euro in a year and a half, famous economist Nouriel Roubini told CNBC on Wednesday.

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  Wednesday, 25 Jan 2012 | 7:39 AM ET

George Soros Has Hard Words for European Union

Posted By: Reported by Geoff Cutmore, Written by Ted Kemp|CNBC Anchor, Senior News Editor
George Soros
Source: World Economic Forum
George Soros

Billionaire investor George Soros on Wednesday minced no words on the financial troubles faced by the Europe Union, as he addressed the future of the currency block before an audience in Davos.

Soros said that Europe is mired in a "spiral of decline" that reinforces itself, adding that, as things stand, "Weaker members of the euro zone are being left as Third World countries that borrowed in foreign currencies."

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  Wednesday, 25 Jan 2012 | 7:18 AM ET

Jobs Are Biggest Issue of Next Decade: Pandit, Others

Posted By: Catherine Boyle

Employment is the most important issue facing the world over the next decade, Vikram Pandit, chief executive of Citigroup, along with the other co-chairs of the World Economic Forum, told journalists in Davos Wednesday.

Susan Trigg | Getty Images

The world needs 600 million new jobs in the next decade to cope with a rising population and the effects of the financial crisis, according to figures released earlier this week by the International Labor Organization.

“That’s going to need a lot of effort and focus and a lot of growth,” Pandit said. “Nothing unleashes growth more than dealing with uncertainty.”

This year’s summit, set in the middle of a continent where a debt crisis is still raging, promises to be gloomy.

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  Wednesday, 25 Jan 2012 | 4:26 AM ET

Obama Call for Tax Hikes Met With Resignation at Davos

Posted By: Catherine Boyle

Chief executives of some of the world’s best-known companies, gathering at the World Economic Forum in Davos, might be expected to resist any indication that the US raise taxes on the rich.

Participants have lunch on the opening day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting on January 26, 2011 in Davos.
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images
Participants have lunch on the opening day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting on January 26, 2011 in Davos.

Despite this, reactions toPresident Barack Obama’s call for higher taxes on the rich in his State of the Union address Tuesday ranged from muted resignation to support.

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  Wednesday, 25 Jan 2012 | 2:25 AM ET

Tight Security, but Police Play Down Occupy Protesters

Posted By: Ted Kemp

First timers to the World Economic Forum in Davos will be surprised and impressed by the high visibility of security here, even if they're long-standing members of the international-conference-going, power-wielding, helicopter-renting set.

Impression of a security staff next to the WEF-logo during preparation for the upcoming Annual Meeting 2012 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 23, 2012.
Moritz Hager
Impression of a security staff next to the WEF-logo during preparation for the upcoming Annual Meeting 2012 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 23, 2012.

Spokesman Thomas Hobi of the Graubünden Cantonal Police told CNBC that the manpower on hand this year—a combination of Swiss police, private civil security and the Swiss army—is similar to past years, though he didn't want to say how many security staff are working the Forum.

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  Tuesday, 24 Jan 2012 | 1:34 PM ET

Challenge in Davos: Just Getting There

Posted By: Catherine Boyle

Opening your window to a blanket of heavy snow at Davos can fill the heart with dread, as the white fluffy stuff adds on half an hour to your travel time.

Davos | World Economic Forum
Source: World Economic Forum
Davos | World Economic Forum

Depending on how close you’re staying to the main World Economic Forum \(WEF\), it can be extremely tricky to get in. A virtual whiteout on Tuesday morning obscured signs and landmarks, leaving visitors struggling to find their way around. Fortunately, the locals are generally a\) friendly, b\) trilingual and c\) willing to help visitors armed with a map and a hopeful expression.

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  Tuesday, 24 Jan 2012 | 9:37 AM ET

Where You Really Find Out What's Happening in Davos

Posted By: Catherine Boyle

The social side of Davos is often said to be more important than the sessions themselves. After all, this is where you can get chief executives with their guard let down, telling you what they really think away from the cameras.

World Economic Forum participants are seen during a cocktail party in the Congress Centre, the main venue for the Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, January 21, 2004.
Photo: Bloomberg via Getty Images
World Economic Forum participants are seen during a cocktail party in the Congress Centre, the main venue for the Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, January 21, 2004.

Global companies jostle for space in the Steigenberger Belvedere hotel, where you arrive through a giant KPMG hall and exit through Deloitte.

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  Tuesday, 24 Jan 2012 | 7:48 AM ET

Snow Blankets World Economic Forum in Davos

Posted By: Ted Kemp

I lived in New York City for 17 years, and I know snow. But this is different.

Clearing the snow in front of the main entrance of the Davos Congress Centre, venue of the upcoming Annual Meeting 2012 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 22, 2012.
Clearing the snow in front of the main entrance of the Davos Congress Centre, venue of the upcoming Annual Meeting 2012 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 22, 2012.

Davos is covered in snow, giant heaps of it, and it's still coming down. It lies mountainous on the sides of the road, it blocks the entrances to villas still awaiting their arrivals \(all the villas, and all the hotel rooms, will be occupied this week\), it's blasted into the sky by an impressively large fleet of snow-clearing machinery at every corner. This morning, it came down so thick and white that I couldn't make out the massive peaks in the distance.

I've joined my CNBC colleagues to cover World Economic Forum 2012, and you can check back on this blog for updates on all the inside developments. And go to our Davos 2012 Special Report page for coverage of major speeches, events and other news developments.

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