January 31, 2009 / 4:55 PM / 11 years ago

Eye-catching quotes from the World Economic Forum

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - With bankers scarce at this year’s World Economic Forum, many of the most striking statements have come from politicians seeking solutions to the economic crisis and to political problems vexing the world.

Below are notable utterances from the annual gathering of business chiefs and policymakers in this Swiss ski resort.

SUMMING IT ALL UP...

MONTEK ALUWALIA, DEPUTY CHAIRMAN, PLANNING COMMISSION INDIA

“It’s been said that confidence grows at the rate the coconut tree grows, and it falls at the rate at which the coconut falls.... I just hope we can give the coconut tree some compost, some special hormones, so it can get back to life.”

CARL BILDT, SWEDISH FOREIGN MINISTER

“This has been the valley of tears — there’s been deep uncertainty over the global economy.”

RABOBANK CHIEF EXECUTIVE BERT HEEMSKERK

“Here in Davos everybody is deeply pessimistic. I have not met one single optimist.”

POLITICS...

TURKISH PRIME MINISTER TAYYIP ERDOGAN BEFORE STORMING OUT OF

A DEBATE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

“President Peres, you are older than I am. Maybe you are feeling guilty and that is why you are so strong in your words. You killed people. I remember the children who died on beaches.”

ISRAELI PRESIDENT SHIMON PERES THE FOLLOWING DAY

“We don’t want conflict with Turkey. We are in a conflict with the Palestinians.

“The relations can remain as they are. My respect (for him) hasn’t changed. It was an exchange of views and views are views.”

RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER VLADIMIR PUTIN

“Today the pride of Wall Street — the investment banks — have practically ceased to exist. In one year they have had to declare losses which exceed their entire profits for the past quarter of a century.

“The existing financial system has failed.”

CHINA PREMIER WEN JIABAO

“The ongoing international financial crisis has landed the world economy in the most difficult situation since last century’s Great Depression.”

FELIPE CALDERON, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO

“I don’t know what the name of this new crisis could be, maybe ‘Big Mac’ crisis or something like that.”

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER GORDON BROWN

“The policy of doing nothing will allow this crisis to start a retreat from globalization with huge implications for prosperity in every part of the world in the years to come.”

ANGEL GURRIA, SECRETARY GENERAL OF OECD

“These radioactive assets are like Pac-Man. It’s eating good assets.”

IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER MANOUCHEHR MOTTAKI

“If the new administration of the United States, as Mr. Obama said, is going to change its policies ... definitely they will find the region in a cooperative approach and reaction.”

KENYAN PRIME MINISTER RAILA ODINGA ON ZIMBABWE

“It is the time for Mr. Mugabe to be shown the door. If he is to be given a safe exit ... so be it. If he needs a golden handshake, let’s assure him of a golden handshake.”

S.KOREA PREMIER HAN SEUNG-SOO AFTER N.KOREA SCRAPS ACCORDS

“We hope that instead of threats of this kind, North Korea would come out to talk to us on matters of mutual concern.”

BRAZIL FOREIGN MINISTER CELSO AMORIM

“The only antidote against this disease of protectionism ... is to conclude the round quickly.”

CANADA TRADE MINISTER STOCKWELL DAY:

“There was a very strong focus there should be no lapses back into anything protectionist.”

“There is momentum coming out of this meeting.”

FINANCIAL CRISIS AND REGULATION...

EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK CHIEF JEAN-CLAUDE TRICHET

“Everybody can see the present system is too fragile, and we have to re-introduce an element of resilience, and we need to do that without any consideration of any kind of vested interest.”

HENRY KRAVIS, FOUNDING PARTNER OF KOHLBERG KRAVIS ROBERTS

“Financial institution regulation is coming and it’s coming in a very major way.”

EU INTERNAL MARKET COMMISSIONER CHARLIE MCCREEVY

“I am very much for making big steps here, but I am afraid the political will has not been there until now.”

JP MORGAN’S JAMIE DIMON

After admitting bankers had done “some really stupid things,” Dimon hit out at policymakers and regulators.

“I haven’t yet seen people get all the right people in a room, close the damn door and come out with a solution.”

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