World Bank/IMF: Corporate hospitality

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Pity the holidaymaker who opted for a peaceful break in Nusa Dua, Bali, in mid-October.

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The World Bank/IMF annual meeting was held in this peninsular in the south of the Indonesian island, and every major resort along one coast was co-opted into either the meeting itself, or external meetings by the banks.

Deutsche and JPMorgan monopolized the Ritz-Carlton; the Institute of International Finance and its many delegates took over the Grand Hyatt; the St Regis hosted receptions for HSBC, among others.

Remarkably, though, some of these resorts still took ordinary tourists, who could occasionally be seen looking baffled by numerous layers of security and hundreds of people in suits networking in the hotel lobbies.

On the plus side, they pretty much had the beaches to themselves, though those at the Ayodya may have been distracted by the global markets awards presentation on the beach – particularly when Indonesia’s finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati collected her award, with some sort of amphibious tank discretely hidden in the bushes nearby.

Austerity

One could learn a bit from hotel selections. It was encouraging, in the new era of Imran Khan austerity, to find the chief executive of one of Pakistan’s largest banks billeted at the Holiday Inn.

All in all, the fears of gridlock and infrastructure inadequacy failed to materialize and the meeting went well, with the volcano behaving itself, though delegates were shaken awake by an earthquake in the early hours of the Thursday.

Perhaps the greatest gains were made by local batik shirt-makers.

As more and more bankers failed to cope with the humidity, they switched from suits to the alternative local dress code, leading to opportunistic vendors dramatically boosting their sales.