Can the World Economic Forum deliver?

The global economic elite is currently in Davos for its annual meeting. But key figures like Trump, May and Macron are not among the roughly 3,000 persons attending this year. For commentators this is just one of several reasons why they see the World Economic Forum falling short of expectations.

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Novi list (HR) /

Davos has lost its lustre

Once the preferred stomping ground for the world's political leaders, Davos has lost much of its appeal, Novi list concludes:

“The world's key leaders won't be attending this year's meeting and are sending their representatives instead. That shows that politicians are distancing themselves from the Davos crowd - from the circle of the world's leading businesspeople with whom, in the eyes of their critics, they've merged to form an elite in the last decades. They've shaped the world to suit the interests of the banks and big businesses, and must now deal with the unpleasant consequences at home: populist rebellions and other problems.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Commerce instead of climate protection

The truly important global issues aren't even being discussed in Davos, Deutschlandfunk complains:

“The trade dispute between the US and China which could plunge the entire global economy into a crisis is as little a focus of the meeting as the Brexit, which has the potential to divide Europe. But above all the biggest global risk is being ignored: climate change. ... Instead the focus is 'Globalization 4.0', or to be precise 'Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth industrial Revolution.' In other words: it's about how to do as good business as possible in the industries of the future like artificial intelligence. ... The organisers have put the emphasis on short-term commerce instead of climate protection.”

The Independent (GB) /

Change can only come from the grassroots

The Independent takes a similar view of the meeting:

“The best way to think about Davos is primarily as a business conference; an opportunity for CEOs, financiers and consultants to socialise with their peers and feel important. … Davos is not a cause of global inequality, more a symptom. Don't look to the World Economic Forum for a diagnosis of the dysfunction in our economies - and certainly don't look to it for any substantive action to reduce inequality. That corrective will only come, if it does, from the grassroots, not from hot air on a cold Swiss mountaintop.”

Die Presse (AT) /

No happy ending

Representatives from London and Washington will shine by their absence, Die Presse laments:

“If the world slides into recession - and that's what experts at the Forum expect in a few years at the latest - the house of cards will simply collapse. Because the central banks have pretty much exhausted all the resources at their disposal. What we will then face is the Greek model, but on a global scale. The ensuing destruction of value would be anything but desirable. Yet just like in a Greek tragedy we are sliding towards precisely such a scenario. And Davos isn't about to bring us a happy ending. If only because the most important players are nowhere to be seen.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Much ado about nothing

What Rzeczpospolita finds missing in Davos is concrete solutions:

“The World Economic Forum never aspired to solve global problems, although it forced its participants to talk about them, which was already a major achievement. So it was up to us, the media, to find out how much information could be squeezed out of which people. That was - and is - no easy thing, because journalists are banned from the most important meetings and can only hear what the participants want to tell them. ... This crucial event that takes place every year in Davos has huge dimensions, but leads to precious few concrete solutions.”

Politiken (DK) /

Davos more important than ever

The World Economic Forum in Davos is crucial in view of the growing inequality in the world, Politiken puts in:

“Anger over this inequality is one very important reason why Trump, May and Macron have no time for Davos. What's paradoxical, however, is that solutions can only be found through international cooperation. The technology giants must be tamed, the tax loopholes closed and the burden of the transition to an environmentally friendly economy must be shared equally. ... We're in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution but the political structures have not developed apace. That must change, and fast. Otherwise we'll end up with what we're already seeing signs of: trade wars, protectionism and political unrest.”

Jurnalul National (RO) /

Beware of more yellow vests

Jurnalul National examines the motto of the forum, "Globalization 4.0", and argues that it must hold out the prospect of a better life:

“Trust in a society is founded on a very simple basis: the feeling that life is changing for the better, not for the worse. The political and economic powers must come up with a new social contract, especially since in too many countries frustration is spreading because people are being ignored. If 'Globalization 4.0' doesn't take account of the individual, it risks turning us all into yellow vests.”