I hear the Bilderberg group is meeting this week. What is it?
The Bilderberg group consists of about 140 wealthy and powerful people who meet annually to discuss key global issues. Named after the Bilderberg hotel in Oosterbeek, the Netherlands, where it held its first meeting in 1954, the group is highly secretive, doesn’t let journalists attend unless they agree beforehand not to report on the proceedings, and won’t even say who is a member.
It’s known that attendees include politicians, royalty, wealthy industrialists and back-room power brokers. Conspiracy theorists say the group essentially controls the world and makes key decisions on international policy.
Canadians who have gone to the meetings in the past include Heather Reisman, chief executive officer of Indigo Books & Music Inc., former Torstar Corp. CEO Robert Prichard, former prime minister Jean Chrétien and former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna. Conrad Black has attended many times and he organized the 1996 meeting that was held just north of Toronto. The last time the Bilderberg group met in Canada was in June, 2006.
When and where is it meeting this year?
This year’s session is set to start this Thursday in Vouliagmeni, Greece, just south of Athens. The global financial crisis will undoubtedly be on the agenda. Needless to say, Lord Black won’t be in attendance.
Superstar investor George Soros says Asia will lead the world out of recession. How likely is this to happen?
While China and other Asian countries have been hit hard by the recession, economies in the region are continuing to grow while the West has been shrinking. The International Monetary Fund recently forecast 6.5-per-cent growth in China in 2009 (down from 13 per cent in 2007 and 9 per cent in 2008). The advanced economies of the West are expected to shrink 3.8 per cent on average this year.
Mr. Soros said yesterday that Asia will be the first region to pull out of the crisis and that China could overtake the United States as the engine of global growth. Still, China represents only about 7 per cent of the global economy, so there needs to be a more widespread recovery for the world to pull out of its funk.
Are developing countries really improving that much faster than the West?
BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Douglas Porter noted last week that some indicators in China and India are showing solid gains relative to similar markers in the West. Retail and auto sales statistics in China, for example, are much better than in North America, and industrial purchasing in both India and China is on the rise. Stock markets in developing countries have also risen much more quickly than those in Europe and North America.