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Davos survey predicts strong growth but widening inequalities

Top business leaders attending the World Economic Forum summit say they are confident about the outlook for the world economy. But half of them said they believed the Internet would widen the gap between rich and poor.

This content was published on January 27, 2000 - 17:28

Top business leaders attending the World Economic Forum summit say they are confident about the outlook for the world economy. But half of them said they believed the Internet would widen the gap between rich and poor.

The survey, by the consultancy firm Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, canvassed the opinions of more than 1,000 top business leaders attending the summit in Davos.

It found that 91 per cent of chief executives attending the summit were "extremely" or "somewhat" optimistic about growth prospects in the world economy over the next three years.

The survey also addressed technology's impact on the widening gap between rich and poor. CEOs were asked whether the Internet would increase or diminish the divide between the "haves" and the "have-nots".

Fifty per cent of the business executives think that gap will widen, while 38 per cent professed optimism that the World Wide Web would benefit everyone.

The survey also reported that one third of the participating CEOs regard the Web as not only a means for reaching new and established customers, but also of managing companies better.

Two-thirds take a more restrictive view of the Web, seeing it primarily as a means of building awareness about their companies.

As far as the technology gap between United States and Europe is concerned, James Schiro, chief executive of PricewaterhouseCoopers, said Europe was rapidly catching up with its counterparts across the Atlantic.

"Five years ago the technology gap between the US and Europe was also five years, today that gap is only around one year," said Schiro.

He added that Europe had "a better comfort level towards technology", than in the past.

By Tom O'Brien

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