Davos Diary: Radical changes coming at Eskom; Soros attacks Xi; IMF warns on trade war

By Alec Hogg

Davos 2019 – this coverage of the global conversation on change is brought to you by BrightRock, the first ever needs matched life insurance that changes as your life changes.

It’s Friday, 25th January, and from Davos, I’m Alec Hogg and here is your BizNews Flash Briefing. Well, in this Swiss Alpine Resort yesterday Finland’s former prime minister and EU presidential hopeful, Alexander Stubb, warned that more money laundering scandals are likely to be uncovered in the wake of the Danske Bank and Deutsche Bank investigations. Stubb, who is currently vice-president at the European Investment Bank, told Bloomberg here that technology is making it easier to track down miscreants and together with Blockchain it will make financial transactions more transparent and thus, much harder for bad actors to game the system.

Also, in Davos, IMF CEO, Christine Lagarde, identified the Trade War between the US and China as the biggest threat to economic growth in the world. But even though she’s concerned, the IMF has not further reduced its global growth forecast for 2019. It estimates that the world will grow 3.5%, down slightly from last October’s 3.7%.

Last night the 88-year-old billionaire philanthropist, George Soros, used his annual dinner for journalists to launch a broadside at Chinese president, Xi Jinping. Calling him the most dangerous opponent of those who believe in open societies. Soros’ comments came in the wake of Chinese plans to setup a social credit system to rank and monitor its citizens. Soros urged US president, Donald Trump, to focus the entire effort of his Trade War against China and not against other countries so, that this could act as a break against China’s increasingly autocratic tenancies.

In South African related news – it has emerged in private conversations here in Davos that a radical plan is being hatched to address the terminal state of the country’s electricity provider, Eskom. An announcement next month is likely to confirm the unbundling and privatisation of an organisation whose free cash flow is insufficient to even cover its interest payments, let alone reinvest in a much, needed maintenance.

News has clearly reached the National Union of Mineworkers, whose representatives called South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, at 5:30am to discuss the impact on their members of the decisions on Eskom. Ramaphosa told the investment conference, hosted by Absa, that he will meet with the National Union of Mineworkers on Monday morning, after returning from India, where he is a guest of honour at it’s 70th Anniversary.

This has been your BizNews Flash Briefing. Until the next time, cheerio.

Davos 2019 – this coverage of the global conversation on change is brought to you by BrightRock, the first ever needs matched life insurance that changes as your life changes.