World Economic Forum Meeting Previewed

The World Economic Forum starts this week in Davos, Switzerland. The meeting brings together the world's political leaders and business leaders. Forbes managing editor Carl Lavin offer his insight on the issues likely to dominate the meeting.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

With the global financial crisis widening and deepening, there will be no place more important in the world this coming week than Davos, Switzerland. The World Economic Forum will bring together more than 2,500 participants from 96 countries, including 41 heads of state, to discuss the theme "Shaping the Post-Crisis World." Carl Lavin, managing editor of Forbes magazine, will be in Davos for the forum. It starts Wednesday. And he joins us now by phone. Thanks for your time. Welcome to the program.

Mr. CARL LAVIN (Managing Editor, Forbes Magazine): Thank you, Liane.

HANSEN: The title - or the theme, "Shaping the Post-Crisis World," what exactly does that mean?

Mr. LAVIN: Well, that's optimistic, for one thing. It means we're going to get out of this and there will be a post-crisis world. It also means that this is a time that world leaders in business and in government need to really be focused on, is this a matter for government, is it a matter for businesses, what's the role of capitalism? Those are some of the questions we're going to be asking.

HANSEN: And will there also be debate on things like, you know, regulation, the free market, that kind of thing?

Mr. LAVIN: Absolutely. And there's also a regional split. If you think that demand for consumer goods - for example, in China and in India - will continue to increase at a good pace and that somehow, that will help the rest of the world get back on track, that's one view. But a lot of people are also looking back here, back to the West and to our financial institutions, how can liquidity get going again?

HANSEN: So there will be discussions between the non-Western and the Western countries. A Chinese premier will be there.

Mr. LAVIN: Premier Wen will be there. He'll be speaking. There's just been a little kerfuffle between the United States and China, and it'll be an opportunity for Premier Wen to try to settle things down a bit. He probably realized that Tim Geithner submitted testimony in writing in which he said that China's manipulating currency rates, and China shot back the next day saying, no, we're not. And the United States and China need to smooth things over.

HANSEN: Timothy Geithner will not be there, though.

Mr. LAVIN: No. Representing Barack Obama will be a close friend and an adviser, Valerie Jarrett. She's been a mentor to Barack and Michelle Obama, a Chicago executive who's now in the White House as a senior adviser. Geithner still has not been confirmed, and it's considered a little rude to be out in public until you actually are confirmed.

HANSEN: And with Valerie Jarrett being there, is there a feeling that if you can get her ear, you're getting the ear of the president?

Mr. LAVIN: Yes. Anything that she can do to let people know that there's a sense from the new administration that they do have things under control - they are working hard, they have the stimulus plan working its way through Congress, and they're trying to do everything they can to get the economy going again - I think that will send a very important message.

HANSEN: What of substance do you expect to come from this meeting?

Mr. LAVIN: I do think that at the very highest level among governments, there will be some bilateral and small group discussions on the regulatory framework that will continue - discussions that will come back. I think it's - the next G20 meeting is in April. But the UK has a stimulus plan. Germany has a stimulus plan. The United States has a stimulus plan. China has a stimulus plan. To get them acting in a more coordinated fashion to stir the global economy is quite important right now.

HANSEN: Carl Lavin is the managing editor of Forbes Magazine. He will be attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this coming week. Thanks a lot.

Mr. LAVIN: Liane, thank you.

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