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Opinion:
Markus KARLSSON

Markus KARLSSON
FRANCE 24 Economics Reporter

The Davos Takeaway

Le 28-01-2012

"People are feeling relief, in the way that somebody who's just been reprieved from hanging feels relief".

That's the sentiment I'll take away from Davos and the World Economic Forum this year.

The quote comes from Martin Wolf, the economic oracle from the Financial Times.

Davos is often described as the temperature gauge of the global economy, and the threats facing it.

Assuming that's right, this year's edition is a classic 'half-glass full, half-glass empty' story.

The focus has understandably been on the eurozone and its existential crisis.

There's relief for now, largely because the ECB is providing banks with almost €500bn in cheap loans.

At the same time, the jury's out on whether eurozone leaders are willing and able to do more.

The word 'firewall' has come up time and time again.

If I had received a euro for every time I heard it, I'd return to Davos a Soros-style billionaire next year.

The rest of the world wants the eurozone to boost its permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism.

The problem is that the zone's paymaster general, Germany, doesn't want to play.

Berlin wants the eurozone to focus on budget discipline, and a 'schuldenbremse'.

That's German for 'debt break' and if I had received a euro for every time I heard it... Well, you get the picture.

The German argument is that size doesn't matter unless you fix the eurozone's underlying problem: debt mountains the size of the Acropolis.

It's seen as a commendable attitude, but frustrations with Germany are building like the thick blanket of snow that's covering Davos.

The United States, other EU members like Sweden, and even Germany's faithful sidekick France are openly pushing Berlin.

No one here in Davos would probably put it as bluntly, it's a distinguished crowd after all, but it seems they just want to shout 'PAY UP'.

We'll see if Angela listens.

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