The OECD at Davos

OECD Secretary-General at Davos

The great and the good have been milling around Davos this week, mulling over the challenges facing the global economy. Among the attendees is the OECD’s Angel Gurría, who’s been talking to a number of news outlets.

In an interview with Reuters, he was asked about British Prime Minister David Cameron’s pledge this week to renegotiate his country’s membership in the European Union and then ask British voters to decide on whether to stay in or get out of the EU.

The OECD Secretary-General argued that much of Britain’s frustration with the EU arose from the divergence in economic performance across the bloc between the peripheral economies and countries like Germany. “Europe has a problem of divergence in productivity and competitiveness,” he said. But he argued that the EU was now firmly on a path of recovery and convergence that would make the bloc stronger over the next five years. “We’re rebuilding, it’s going to be stronger, nobody’s going to leave,” he predicted.

Speaking to Bloomberg Mr. Gurría warned with “big yellow flashing lights” against complacency over the state of the world economy. “We’re not out of the woods yet,” he said. He called on governments to take action on long-term structural reform across a number of areas, including investment in education and innovation as well reforms to taxation: “Let’s go for the reforms,” he declared, “so that we can consolidate the recovery.”

Useful links
OECD work on the economy

The road to Davos

All eyes turn to the Swiss ski resort of Davos this week for the World Economic Forum (WEF) . The annual meeting will bring together 2,500 business, government and civil society leaders (including OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría) to discuss some of the key challenges facing the world today.

After a couple of years of grim economic news, Davos may well be buoyed by the latest economic forecasts from the IMF, revealed on the eve of the forum, which point to global economic growth of 3.9% in 2010, up on the IMF’s previous forecast of 3.1%. Speaking to reporters ahead of Davos, Mr. Gurría indicated that the OECD, too, was also likely to raise its growth forecasts this year. However, any relief among attendees is likely to be tempered by concern over the challenges still facing the global economy – challenges reflected in this year’s Davos theme“Improve the State of the World: Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild”

The forum will reflect shifting balances in the global economy in other ways, too. As several reporters note, emerging countries like China will have a bigger presence than ever before: According to The New York Times, “the number of attendees from the BRICs — Brazil, Russia, India and China — has more than doubled since 2005. Another change at Davos: No more Angelina Jolie or Bono. Without mentioning anyone specifically, Klaus Schwab, the chairman of the World Economic Forum told The New York Times that “the media overplayed the presence of those people, so we don’t invite them anymore.”

Davos runs until Sunday. If you’d like to follow the action you can catch live webcasts or follow the forum blog . As usual, media outlets like the The New York Times, BBC and Financial Times will also be bringing regular updates.