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Column by Olga Podoinitsyna, Member of the Board at VTB Capital, for Communicate Magazine

30 January 2015
Communicate Magazine

Davos, Russian prospects and economic challenges

VTB Capital’s Olga Podoinitsyna examines the relationship between the eurozone, Russia and the international economy through her experiences at the World Economics Forum in Davos

For me, Davos remains the only game in town for discussion of the latest thinking and ideas on the global economy, business and development. For marketing and communications professionals, it is always exciting to see what causes the big moments at Davos. What big idea is going to capture the imagination is a question attendees always wonder when making their way to the Swiss resort.

In 2013, Davos focused on the stubborn failure of the global economy to recover from the financial crisis, amid the woes in the eurozone and the US fiscal cliff. Last year, a key theme was harnessing technology to encourage the green shoots of economic growth. This year, participants discussed issues including wealth inequality, the eurozone and reviving growth through more unorthodox means (although many commentators now claim quantitative easing to be the new normal).

A look at the above list makes it clear how the World Economic Forum has retained its edge. Davos has a knack for highlighting the big issues of our time. In our 24/7 media environment, the forum is able to rise above non-stop coverage of the latest crisis and join the dots between short-term problems and long term solutions.

Take the issue of the Russian economy, for example. Russia’s prospects in 2015 were a huge theme at this year’s forum. No doubt these are challenging times – as Russia’s largest investment bank, we at VTB Capital face questions all the time about doing business in the country.

But look closer, as Davos participants have been able to do, and you can see some indicators that Russia’s prospects in 2015 are on the uptick. The business community this year were bullish on the country’s prospects, with one investor regaling an audience with Warren Buffet’s famous advice, “Be fearful when others are greedy, but be greedy when others are fearful.” Clearly the business community is looking at Russia in 2015 – it will certainly be an interesting period.

VTB Capital’s event at Davos brought together over 70 high-profile investors and global business leaders to discuss some of these issues. The event, titled ‘Acknowledging Differences, Capturing Opportunities,’ was hosted by CNN’s Richard Quest, and looked at the implications of the US oil boom; the sustainability of public finances in a cheap oil economy; the prospects for growth in China and India; and the outlook for EU and US sanctions. On each issue, participants made interesting and novel contributions. While a number of investors claimed to be nervous about the global geopolitical situation for 2015, the overall point we took away from the event was that Russia had a key role to play in some of the big issues facing the global economy in 2015.

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