As the World Economic Forum winds up its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, business leaders express optimism about the opportunities for economic growth this year. The CEO’s of six leading multi-national companies agree governments should emphasize economic growth over austerity measures to balance their budgets.
A panel of business leaders agrees the world economy is looking up and there are many opportunities for growth. Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Dupont Ellen Kullman says confidence is building among business people in the United States.
"As we take a look at 2011, there is optimism for the automotive industry in the United States," said Kullman. "It will grow, high single digits. There is optimism around new production capability that is coming in, in alternate energy and in new technologies where innovations in science are really changing the game. At the end of the day in the United States it is going to come down to jobs."
But Kullman is not overly concerned about the prolonged joblessness in the United States. She says it is not unusual for jobs to lag behind when a country comes out of a recession.
The chief executive officer of Nestle in Switzerland, Paul Buicke, says the jobless situation is not as grim as it looks in Western countries. He notes lots of jobs are being created around the world and this is linked to the growth in emerging markets.
"Eighty percent of the population is going for a better tomorrow," said Buicke. "And, what I see is the emerging markets have emerged. They really are part of the scene now. And, what you see is something positive. They really go around their own markets. They really go about their own future. So, there is something fundamentally changed in the world."
Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of ICICI Bank in India Chanda Kochhar says business leaders must be optimistic and look for opportunities. At the same time, she says they must be grounded in reality and be aware of the challenges.
"We are finding the next drivers of growth in each of our economies and across the world," said Kochhar. "But, at the same time, it is not to say that we do not have to be cautious about the challenges. And, in fact, I think what we have to realize is that today when the world is becoming multi-speed and when the world is becoming even more interconnected, the impact of the challenges is also going to be much larger."
Kochhar says the developed world is going to see challenges in the form of unemployment and sovereign debt. On the other hand, she says, the emerging or emerged economies will have to tackle issues such as inflation and food security.
Since the world is interconnected, she says, anything that happens to energy prices in the developed world will have an impact in the developing world. She says anything that happens to growth in one part of the world is going to have an affect on capital growth elsewhere.