With war threatening to escalate in the Middle East, as well as crises in Ecuador and many other parts of the world, most people are not even aware that the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland is rolling around again this week. In the context of sharpening inequalities, and perilous global politics, what relevance does this gathering have outside the elite bubble? The Forum’s annual Global Risks Report itself posits misinformation, societal polarization, extreme weather conditions, conflict, and rising cost of living among the key risks to the global economy this year. What the WEF has failed to define is that for many, the coming year does not bring the threat of multiple crises.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog has been targeted with a criminal complaint during a visit to Switzerland, Swiss prosecutors said on Friday, amid allegations of crimes against humanity over the war in Gaza. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office (BA) confirmed that it had received a criminal complaint against the Israeli president, who was at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos on Thursday to discuss the Gaza war. “The criminal complaints will now be examined in accordance with the usual procedure,” BA said in a statement, adding that it was in contact with the foreign ministry “to examine the question of the immunity of the person concerned”.
The annual jamboree of the rich global elite called the World Economic Forum (WEF) is under way again in the luxury ski resort of Davos, Switzerland. Thousands will attend and many of the ‘great and good’ of political and corporate leaders have arrived in their private jets with huge entourages. The speakers include China’s premier Li Qiang, the head of the EU, Ursula von de Leyen, Zelenskyy from Ukraine and many top business leaders. The WEF aims to discuss the challenges facing humanity in 2024 and onwards. These challenges, however, are primarily seen from the point of view of global capital and any proposed policy solutions are driven by the aim to sustain the world capitalist order.
The wealth of the world’s top five richest men has more than doubled since 2020 while 4.8 billion people, or 60% of humanity, have been further impoverished. At this rate, while it could only take a decade for the world to have its first trillionaire, it will take 229 years to ensure that no person is living in poverty. These findings are part of a new report titled Inequality Inc. published by Oxfam International, released on the eve of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. “We’re witnessing the beginnings of a decade of division, with billions of people shouldering the economic shockwaves of pandemic, inflation and war, while billionaires’ fortunes boom.
At the start of each year, the World Economic Forum—organiser of the annual Davos conference currently underway in Switzerland—releases its list of the ‘global risks’ expected to dominate over the following twelve months. This year, researchers at the WEF decided that these risks are so great, and so interwoven, that we are now entering an era of ‘polycrisis’. The clearest risk in the immediate term is a global recession. The UK, most of Europe and the US are pretty much guaranteed to go into recession in 2023. The downturn will be worse in Europe due to the ongoing energy crisis and the war in Ukraine. The fact that an inflationary crisis—and, relatedly, a cost of living crisis—is taking place alongside this economic downturn makes the outlook even more grim. We’ve had a decade of slow growth and, looking ahead, it’s hard to see where growth is going to come from in the future.
Last week the Saudis publicly snubbed the Biden administration. Several outlet picked up on that. The snub is significant. While lots of top U.S. bankers will take part the Biden administration will be given no chance to influence the Saudi investment plans. However, the Biden's administration main propaganda outlet, the New York Times, won't have any of that. It depicts the Saudi snub as one done by the uninvited the Biden administration. It is also lying about the Biden administration's response: Some top American business leaders area headed to the Saudi business conference. But Biden administration officials, angry over the kingdom’s stance on oil production and ties with Russia, are staying away. The Biden administration’s message to corporate America was clear: Consider the reputation of the countries you do business with.
As the summit ended, this reality was brought home by a cover story in the Economist, published online Thursday, “The next war: The growing danger of great-power conflict.” The article’s introductory paragraphs paint a bleak picture: “In the past 25 years war has claimed too many lives. Yet even as civil and religious strife have raged in Syria, central Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq, a devastating clash between the world’s great powers has remained almost unimaginable.” “No longer,” declare the magazine’s editors. Amid the erosion of “the extraordinary military dominance that America and its allies have enjoyed,” war “on a scale and intensity not seen since the second world war is once again plausible. The world is not prepared.” The Economist noted the publication on January 19 of the Pentagon’s 2018 National Defense Strategy, which declared that “Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in US national security,” and argued for an aggressive expansion of the United States’ nuclear forces that could potentially put it in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.
The World Economics Forum (WEF) brings thousands of world political and business leaders to Davos to exchange information. Over 1000 private jets land in this ski resort polluting the air and bringing in the CEOs of the largest companies, presidents, kings, and prime ministers to plot how to get richer at the expense of the poor. Thousands attend. In the 2006 Davos meeting I managed to get an article titled "Boycott Israel" in the official magazine distributed to all delegates. After complaints from some who do not believe in free speech (because the truth is to their disadvantage), Klaus Schwab Founder and Executive Chairman of the WEF swiftly interrupted the meetings to issue a public apology...
The architects of the crisis-ridden international economic order are starting to see the dangers. It’s not just the maverick hedge-funder George Soros, who likes to describe himself as a class traitor. Paul Polman, Unilever chief executive, frets about the “capitalist threat to capitalism”. Christine Lagarde, the IMF managing director, fears capitalism might indeed carry Marx’s “seeds of its own destruction” and warns that something needs to be done. The scale of the crisis has been laid out for them by the charity Oxfam. Just 80 individuals now have the same net wealth as 3.5 billion people – half the entire global population. Last year, the best-off 1% owned 48% of the world’s wealth, up from 44% five years ago. On current trends, the richest 1% will have pocketed more than the other 99% put together next year. The 0.1% have been doing even better, quadrupling their share of US income since the 1980s. This is a wealth grab on a grotesque scale.
Members of the World Economic Forum have long held that their stated aim of meeting annually in Switzerland is to "improve the state of the world." But protesters say the meetings are secretly aimed at promoting the agendas of corporations and lobbies at the expense of global citizenry. And the campaigners have declared their work in bringing much of the realities of Davos to light has reached a new stage. Oliver Claassen from the Berne Declaration, a Swiss NGO, told the Anadolu Agency: "The main reason for leaving Davos is the arrival of Corporate Justice - a campaign which lobbies politicians to force corporations to respect human rights and the environment."
While there may be confusion among some in the US as to how the American political system operates, it is apparently taken for granted by participants at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that politics in America is based on bribery and corruption. In an interview at Davos with Bloomberg News related to growing concerns about rising wealth inequality and its corruption influence on American politics economist and NYU business professor Nouriel Roubinistated as a matter of fact that it would be hard for the US to overcome wealth inequality because the US political system was based on “legalized corruption” which meant rich people – having more resources to bribe politicians with – would generally prevail. Tom Keene, Bloomberg: How big is the plutocracy effect in 2015?
As an annual gathering of thousands of leading financial, corporate, political and social oligarchs in Davos, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has taken a keen interest in recent years discussing the potential for social upheaval as a result of mass inequality and poverty. A WEF report released in November of 2013 warned that a “lost generation” of unemployed youth in Europe could potentially pull the Eurozone apart. One of the report's authors, the CEO of Infosys, commented that “unless we address chronic joblessness we will see an escalation in social unrest,” noting that youth especially “need to be productively employed, or we will witness rising crime rates, stagnating economies and the deterioration of our social fabric.” The report added: “A generation that starts its career in complete hopelessness will be more prone to populist politics and will lack the fundamental skills that one develops early on in their career.” In short, if the global ruling class – known affectionately as the Davos Class – doesn't quickly find ways to accommodate the continent's increasingly unemployed and “lost” youth, those people will potentially turn to “populist politics” of resistance that directly challenge the global political and economic order. For the individuals and interests represented at the World Social Forum, this poses a monumental and, increasingly, an existential threat.