Editorial – Europe
By James Wright
We visited Europe in the continuing crisis, the Euro under questioning, rising unemployment and companies seeking alternatives in the emerging world to present minimally acceptable results. During our stay, Lady Margaret Thatcher, “the Iron Lady”, has died.
According to Prof. Simon Commander, a Cambridge economist, MBA professor and consultant of the European Union, not much progress is expected this year, but England and Germany are the two European Economies with better perspectives to emerge out of the current crisis, as their expected GDP growth is of 1.7 and 1.9% in 2014.
Margaret Thatcher is remembered on his death exactly for having raised the UK from a long period of economic decline. She broke the power of the unions, privatized enterprises, liberalized the economy and promoted competition. She is admired for having conducted the Falklands War, and is contested for having fought the unions and reduced the generous social benefits, but balanced public accounts and created the foundations for the sustained growth of the country, without submitting to easy populism.
Classes on mergers and acquisitions, the prospective changes as consequences global warming, and the visit to St Johns Innovation Centre, illustrated the knowledge-based dynamic and technology that characterizes the industrial scenario of the UK. A gala at the Gonville and Caius College Fellows’ room, where Prof. Stephen Hawking is still active, in which we had an excellent lecture by Professor Greg Clarke, a renowned expert on urban planning who talked about the preparation and the results of the London Olympics, and the prospects for the World Cup in São Paulo, and in particular, about São Paulo’s bid to host the Expo 2020.
At EM Lyon, we learned about the impacts of the future integration of Turkey into the European Union, a large potential source of young manpower, and the promise of integration of the first predominantly Muslim country in Europe. On the one hand, it means the creation of a new era of relations between the West and the Islamic world, and on the other hand, the fear and risks of this integration. We had classes on the business profile in different regions of Europe and approaches to negotiation, as well as an analysis of the perceptions of European consumers on Brazilian products, which are seen on a positive light, but are not widely known.
In Annecy we visited the center for research and design of Salomon, an important manufacturer of high-performance sporting goods. Received by the president of the company himself, we learned that the company, leader in products for snow sports, reoriented itself strategically to other sports, in order to better meet the growing demand from emerging countries, mostly in warmer climates. We were impressed by the size and sophistication of the research center that develops innovations and prototypes of skis, shoes, sportswear, and wheels for competition bicycles, among others. As the manufacturing process is outsourced, the company invests heavily in research and innovation. Back from Annecy, we had the traditional tour of the medieval area of the city of Lyon, one of the best preserved ones in Europe, with ancient churches, cobbled streets, buildings and secret passageways. Not to mention, of course, the opportunity to taste what is considered one of the best cuisines of France.