February 4, 2013 Leave a comment
As the global economy begins to show signs of recovery, leading economic thinkers, heads of states, and major CEOs recently met in Davos, Switzerland for the annual World Economic Forum. These VIPs attended numerous events, networked, and traversed a new global economic landscape characterized by renewed optimism. The new disposition was reflected by this year’s theme—“resilient dynamism”—which represents an important shift in the perception of the world economy from something that is weathered to a force that can provide new opportunities.
While the outlook has become more hopeful, it does not mean that we are out of the woods just yet. As Axel A. Weber, Chairman of the Board of Directors of UBS, Switzerland, and a Meeting Co-Chair, declared, “The feeling is that the worst is behind us. But the mood bordered on complacency.” Not everything pointed towards the positive, especially the WEF’s own Global Risks 2013 report which offers a pessimistic outlook, saying the global community’s ability to address significant challenges, such as global warming, were limited by economic issues like “severe income disparity” and “chronic fiscal imbalances.” The report concludes that these systemic problems must be addressed in the near future in order to both sustain global economic growth and to avoid widespread social unrest.
On an interesting side note, the WEF, working with the science magazine Nature, noted several important but relatively remote potential economic threats known collectively as “X Risk Factors.” These include: Runaway Climate Change, Significant Cognitive Enhancement, Rogue Deployment of Geoengineering, Costs of Living Longer, and Discovery of Alien Life. While these issues are currently not as tangible as “concerns such as failed states, extreme weather events, famine, macroeconomic instability or armed conflict,” says the WEF, “they capture broad and vaguely understood issues that could be hatching grounds for potential future risks.” However, it is not unimaginable that we may confront many of these issues in the coming decades, and therefore, it is prudent to prepare for these prospective threats.
Overall, while Davos may often be thought of merely as a gathering of “fat cats in the snow,” it does have real worth both through its influence in setting the economic discourse and its role as a place for global leaders to reflect on global economic challenges.
Posted by: Matthew Goldberg