Cayman Business Outlook focuses on geopolitics

Cayman Business Outlook, a fixture in Cayman’s conference calendar, is set to return on 19 January at the Westin Casuarina on Seven Mile Beach with a range of macroeconomic and political topics that are going to impact the Cayman Islands.

“This year we are talking about global politics, economics and technology and how that is going to impact our lives,” says Anwer Sunderji, chairman of Fidelity Group, the organisers of the annual conference.

The role social media played in the Arab Spring and in politics in general, the euro crisis and the inability of the United States to continue to play the role of global policeman will be some of the issues addressed at the event, according to Sunderji.

Alex Tabarrok, author of the blog “Marginal Revolution” will discuss how the economy reacts to these global changes and social media analyst Anthony Williams will explain how social media have changed the landscape of the 21st century.

As one of the highlights this year the Cayman Business Outlook 2012 will feature two geopolitical speakers, George Friedman, author of The Next Decade, and Gideon Rachnan, Financial Times journalist and author of Zero Sum Future, who have opposing views of how the US, Europe and China will impact global stability in the future.

In his book Rachman retraces how the win-win assumptions of globalisation are slowly pushed aside by a new zero-sum logic according to which one country’s gain appears to be another country’s loss. The zero-zum logic gives rise to conflicts within the European Union, a growing rivalry between the US and China, and nationalism and protectionism worldwide. In this new world of anxiety, which is less prosperous and less stable, it becomes increasingly difficult to deal with global problems from resource shortages and climate change to nuclear proliferation and terrorism, Rachnan argues.

Where Rachnan focuses on the sense of “America’s vulnerability” and how the financial crisis has undermined its power, Friedman is the optimistic opposite. In his 2009 book “The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century” he predicts America’s dominance in every sector including the economy, technology, politics and military. China meanwhile will suffer from political fragmentation and economic crisis; Europe and Russia will break up. In his latest book Friedman remains equally bullish on America, as he notes “the United States is far more powerful than most people think” and its problems are “trivial compared to the extent of its power.”

As part of a new structure of the Cayman Business Outlook, each speaker will host a question and answer segment after their presentation, giving audience members the opportunity for interaction.

In addition to global issues, the Cayman Business Outlook wil host a local panel, which this year is moderated by former Maples and Calder partner and CIMA Chairman Tim Ridley. The panel will debate the “hot topic” of governance and transparency, as well as the future of Cayman’s relationship with the United Kingdom as it remains a British Overseas Territory.

Following in the tradition of previous years, Premier McKeeva Bush will give a state of the nation type of address, during which he typically outlines his plans for the year, Sunderji added.