"It doesn´t matter what the banks do...It´s the public sector decisions that are going to matter."
The Fat Tail: The Power of Political Knowledge for Strategic Investing (Oxford University Press, 2009) lays out a thesis that Bremmer says was borne out in Davos this year - with dozens of heads of state in attendance and CEOs nowhere to be found. As he put it, it´s capital cities like Washington, Beijing, and Abu Dhabi that matter now; centers of capital like New York, Shanghai and Dubai will play second fiddle for years to come. "New York used to be the financial capital of the world; New York is no longer even the economic capital of the U.S.; Washington is."
Like many bank executives, Bremmer is fearful of Washington´s ability to effectively handle the crisis. "One of the biggest risks out there is the U.S. Congress, and the relative inability of the Obama administration to muster and create fast-moving policy to react to the situation."
"Financial markets move a heck of a lot faster than the US government, and the Congress," he laments.
And, finally, the gossip from the evening. The event was "hosted" by Sallie Krawcheck, a friend of Bremmer's whose ties to the Eurasia group date to her days at Citi. Krawcheck, who suffered her own indignities when she was forced out as head of Citi´s wealth management unit in September, commented dryly on the state of the economy, noting that "there are periods of time when nightmares do come true."
But, what Sallie watchers really want to know is what is one of U.S. Banker´s Most Powerful Women in Banking up to these days? Writing a tell-all book? "Not until I´m about 85; I´d like to work again," she said. Bremmer gave away a bit of detail, noting that she´d flown in from Chicago to be at the party. And what was she doing there? "Visiting friends. Uh, vacationing," she said tongue-in-cheek. Krawcheck said later the book she´d really like to write is not for industry insiders, or gossips, but for investors, clueing them in to "what´s really going on."
Maybe that´ll be the next year´s big banking book party.