Amidst anxiety over the US-China trade war, Brexit and a slowdown in global growth, a record number of private jets are arriving at Davos, Switzerland, bringing together some 3,000 business and political leaders to attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.
Reports of gloom set the stage
Around 1,500 individual private flights flew in and out of airfields in the Swiss Alps, drawing criticism from observers around the world given the summit’s agenda to talk business with climate concerns in sight.
Two reports calling for an overhaul of the current economic structure, Oxfam International’s “Public Good or Private Wealth?” and Edelman’s “Trust at Work” set a
The International Monetary Fund also released its economic outlook highlighting the impact of worsening trade relations on the global economy, further revising growth rates for 2019 downward by 0.2%.
“After two years of solid expansion, the world economy is growing more slowly than expected, and risks are rising,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said on Monday, adding that the “risk of a sharper decline in global growth has certainly increased”.
The unresolved trade war between the US and
Ken Hu, Huawei’s deputy chairman, told an audience at Davos earlier on Tuesday that the trade war was having a “damaging effect on many of the companies” in the tech industry. “As the technology industry, we heavily rely on the global supply chain and the global innovation ecosystem, so we are probably suffering the most right now,” he was reported as saying.
A letter from billionaire investor Seth Klarman, circulated on the eve of the meeting, has also emerged as the talking point. It flags growing geopolitical tensions, rising debt levels and receding American leadership as contributors to mass panic and eventual economic calamity.
“It can’t be business as usual amid constant protests, riots, shutdowns and escalating social tensions,” he wrote,
Technology companies attending the conference in Davos — including Facebook, Google and Amazon — may also want to take note of Klarman’s anxiety that “more and more people are choosing to only seek out information from those who share their views” and his blame that “technology and social media have made it increasingly easy to do so”.
Speakers of the day
Former Indian central bank governor Raghuram Rajan, Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat, Blackstone chairman
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella addressed the pressing issue of protecting
The itinerary also included representatives of the media, from Reuters and the Washington Post, who deliberated on press freedom in crisis. Marty Baron of the Post condemned the Trump administration and other governments for failing to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the premeditated murder of columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Britain’s Prince William interviewed legendary conservation advocate David Attenborough, who was felicitated with the WEF Crystal Award on Monday. Meanwhile, Brazil’s newly elected far-right president Jair Bolsonaro failed to impress the crowd with a short campaign speech that missed its mark.
In other news, one of the world’s most powerful oilmen, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih also dropped out of this week’s event, although acquired foreign investment worth a billion from its biggest global investor on the first day at Davos.
Will it go downhill from here?
The rise of populism and nationalism threatens the “Davos dream” of open markets, global connectivity and cooperation, that the week-long conference aims to resolve.
With anti-elite yellow vest protests in France to the consolidation of power by populist leaders in Brazil, Mexico and Italy, the Davos conference will have to navigate a common ground with authoritative powers in Turkey and Hungary, while dealing with the US’s continued absence from international talks.
In a move away from the possibility of a tripolar world, led by the US, Europe and China, in a move that several pundits are referring to as deglobalisation, the notion of each country for its own has emerged. Additionally, the economic opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are coinciding with a growing roster of societal concerns that include data privacy, environmental degradation, market concentration
How these economic leaders will
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.