The world’s elite, well sans Russians, are hobnobbing it in the Swiss Alps at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos from Sunday (May 22) through Thursday. The gathering was nixed for last two years with the coronavirus pandemic. Not to say the elites haven’t been trying to shape, and profit from all and sundry in that time. About 2500 participants are registered, down from 3000 at the last gathering in January 2020. What is notable is who isn’t going.
There are of course many conspiracy theories around the WEF, some of them seem straight out of an Austin Power’s movie, some disarmingly have come true, believe it or not. Either way it is relevant to keep an eye on who attends, the agenda and implications.
“There’s no business as usual,” forum President Borge Brende told The Associated Press, saying Ukraine is not the only worry. “It is also climate change. It is also that the global growth is slowing, and we have to avoid that this very weak recovery ends with a new recession because we have very limited ammunition to fight a new recession.” “A new recession will lead to increased unemployment, increased poverty,” he added. “So much is at stake.”
Ostensibly there is much to discuss, many would argue these are the result of incompetence, disorder or all part of a conniving plan.
- We have soaring food and energy prices,
- Russia has invaded Ukraine
- Climate change is front and center
- Drought and food shortages in Africa.
- The massive QE the central banks and governments pumped in saw stock markets and asset prices soar, with that even more inequality between rich and poor
- Meddling in elections
- Pandemic continuations
- China threatening the ASEAN nations
- World pollution
- The fact many parts of the world is a tinderbox
- Mental Health and wealth destruction from lockdowns
- The open festering wounds created and fed by Partisan politics
One-third of the roughly 270 panel discussions will focus on climate change or its effects, with extreme weather, efforts to reach “net zero” emissions and finding new, cleaner sources of energy on the agenda.
Roberto Bocca, head of energy, materials and infrastructure at WEF, said: “Countries are at risk of future events compounding the disruption of their energy supply chain at a time when the window to prevent the worst consequences of climate change is closing fast.” “Now is the time to double down on action.”
Of course, how much of this discussion and sympathy is genuine or just smoke and mirrors? In reality executives use their time in the Alps to pursue deals or sales, and to meet clients, competitors and regulators.
Key Attendees and Speakers
More than 50 heads of government or state are expected to attend the annual meeting; however many world leaders are staying away. While European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz are among the over a dozen European leaders attending.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will speak on opening day Monday by video from Kyiv, while the country’s foreign minister and a sizable delegation of other top Ukrainian officials will be on hand. Leaders including Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will attend. Bill Gates will be there.
Notable absentees will be Emmanuel Macron, Boris Johnson, Mario Draghi and India’s Narendra Modi. They will also be no leaders from Japan, Korea or many Gulf states. Australia will be unrepresented at ministerial level; the number of formal Australian participants has dropped too just a few.
What also stands out is there is almost nobody from China, a country whose presence had become increasingly large and foregrounded in recent years.
Of the big banks a few are sending a lower-ranked contingent this year. Those not on the list include Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, UniCredit boss Andrea “Mr Davos” Orcel, and JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon. “Davos just isn’t Davos without Jamie Dimon,” one summit-watcher lamented.
Given the invasion of Ukraine President Vladimir Putin and Russian business and political leaders haven’t been invited to Davos this year. It will be the first WEF in Switzerland since the fall of communism without a single Russian official or business leader. At the last meeting in Davos in 2020, Russian tycoons were the third-best represented by billionaire count.
There will be no traditional “Russia House” social festivities with caviar and vodka spreads for the elite attendees of its evening fun. This has been renamed ‘Russia War Crimes House’. “This year, Russia is not present at Davos, but its crimes will not go unnoticed. The ‘Russia War Crimes House’ takes place inside the former Russia House,” organizers of the rechristened venue said in a press release.
Brende, the forum president, says scores of CEOs and other business leaders will be looking into ways the private sector can support Ukraine, “in the situation where Russia is breaking international law, international humanitarian law, and not sticking to the U.N. Charter.”
From The TradersCommunity Research Desk