One of the most refreshing things about going to the World Economic Forum in Davos is that it reminds you just how irrelevant to much of the rest of the world the political and economic concerns of our little island really are. In recent years, this has become a truly global event, and for a growing number of its participants, it matters not a fig whether Britain is in or out of the European Union, what it is doing about bloated entitlement spending or indeed whether its economy is growing or declining at all. They simply don’t care. To a Brazilian or Indian entrepreneur, these are things of no more importance than what the cat had for breakfast. The world has changed, and regrettably, we are now a much smaller part of it.
Nor are we alone in our irrelevance. When I first started coming to these meetings 15 or so years ago, they were very much European-American affairs, with much of the economic agenda revolving around Europe’s intractably sclerotic growth rate. This would invariably be contrasted with America’s apparently more dynamic economic model, and everyone would go away muttering that things have got to change. As is apparent, in this respect they haven’t. To say that the euro has failed to provide Europe with the economic vibrancy its inventors had hoped for is something of an understatement. Europe is in an even worse state of relative economic decline than it was back then.