Billionaires gathering at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting this week in Davos, Switzerland, are worried about global terrorism, oil prices and Vladimir Putin’s stance on Ukraine.
The one thing they agree on is that the Fed will keep interest rates at record lows.
About a half dozen of the wealthiest participants, including Irish telecoms entrepreneur Denis O’Brien and Italian shoe billionaire Mario Polegato, said the US Federal Reserve won’t raise rates until the end of the year.
“Everything is too tender at the moment,” Mr O’Brien, chairman of Digicel, said. The Fed won’t increase rates “until late 2015 or the beginning of 2016 at the earliest.”
The 56-year-old, who has attended Davos for more than a decade and often comes to the event for just a day on his Gulfstream 650 jet plane, said the trade relationship between Russia and Europe and the US is the greatest geopolitical issue facing the world’s economy.
“The US and Europe have the wrong approach on Russia,” he said. “The big issue here is whether the EU, US and IMF will help Ukraine prevent a default. If Europe doesn’t stand firm with the Ukrainians, the country will melt down.” Ma, Gates O’Brien is one of at least 100 billionaires joining more than 2,500 business and political leaders in Switzerland this week, according to a list of attendees and promotional materials.
He said if he had $100 million to invest, he would put $60 million in Yandex, which operates the biggest search engine in Russia, and $40 million in mobile-phone operator VimpelCom Ltd. He said oil would be $60 per barrel at the end of the year.
The wealthiest people on the planet got even richer last year, adding $92 billion to their collective net worth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s 400 wealthiest individuals.
The aggregate net worth of the world’s top billionaires stands at about $4 trillion, according to the ranking. Jack Ma, last year’s biggest gainer, is attending the forum in Davos, as is Bill Gates, the founder and chairman ofMicrosoft and the world’s richest person. Both declined to participate in the Bloomberg survey through spokesmen.
Billionaire Adi Godrej, 72, said oil would be around $45 per barrel at the start of 2016, and that the militant Islamic State movement is the biggest threat to global stability.
He said he would invest $100 million in Picassos over stocks, US dollars or gold. Mr Godrej, who has visited Davos for more than 20 years, forecast that the Fed would raise rates in the middle of the year, and would do so in two or three tranches.
Last year, he predicted that interest rates would rise “somewhat in the developed world.” Rahul Bajaj is also among the 15 Indian billionaires in attendance, topped only by the US contingent, which has more than 25 at the event, including investor George Soros, Google chairman Eric Schmidt, and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, who became a billionaire during last year’s meeting.
Mr Bajaj said terrorism and income inequality are the biggest threats to the world. International conflict, along with extreme weather events and high unemployment, are among the five top global risks in terms of likelihood, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk study, which was released January 15.
Source: The Irish Times