25.02.2013 - First, what I didn’t do today: I could not attend the presentation by “Mutti” Merkel (“Mother” Merkel, as she is called in Germany), and that was a disappointment. I see the German Chancellor as the prime reason the eurozone is holding together and think that she will also be the prime reason for the situation’s ultimate, successful management.
What I did do today was meet with more clients and participated in a session on how the digital era in general and mobile information in particular are reducing gender inequality and narrowing the divide between women and men in the workforce. The thesis was that digital technology and easier information availability within companies is now giving women equal access to the same information within businesses.
Another lesson from the presentation is that, for people in many parts of Asia, Africa and South America, mobile technology – most often a simple smartphone – has become the principal gateway to the Internet, providing access to mobile banking, education and healthcare resources. This, too, is vastly improving the ability of women to progress, not only in society in general, but into the workforce as well.
In one session, I learned that the world suddenly has an abundance of fossil fuel energy today, thanks to the very long-term development of fracking technology, which is now releasing vast amounts of gas from rock, even in places and countries that never had oil reserves. This is rapidly changing the supply and demand characteristics of energy economics, putting increased power into the hands of energy consumers. These are carbon-based gases, however, and so not a renewable energy source. It is cleaner than coal, but not a solution to the long-term issues of global warming and climate change. The topic clearly touches our business through our efforts to help clients manage their energy needs efficiently in the real estate we manage for them. I hope cheaper energy does not reduce their resolve to build and manage efficiently.
Now to David Cameron for today’s final thought. As Christian Ulbrich, my fellow Forum participant and CEO of Jones Lang LaSalle’s EMEA region posted on our firm’s Notes from Davos blog and many here have echoed today, Mr Cameron’s proposal for a future referendum on Britain’s EU membership impacts confidence, and has introduced a dose of uncertainty into the business community with respect to investing or expanding in Britain. That could have an impact on direct real estate investment and could certainly have a knock-on effect on corporate investment, and therefore on demand for space in the UK. Viewed from an economic, rather than a political, perspective, Mr Cameron seems to have spoken before considering the consequences for the business world, which he needs to create jobs.
Image: Delegates attend the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2013 REUTERS/Denis Balibouse