Davos: World Economic Forum in times of crisis

Influential representatives from business and politics have convened in Davos over five days for the 53rd World Economic Forum. According to founder Klaus Schwab, the goal is to help "improve the state of the world". Europe's press discusses the real motives behind the meeting.

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The Times (GB) /

All about business

The World Economic Forum is a giant trade fair, The Times observes:

“The problem with Davos is not, as its more imaginative critics suggest, that it is a cabal of elites plotting the shepherding of all humanity into one submissive herd under the malevolent supervision of a global establishment. This overstates its importance. ... Davos is less the evil hub of globalism, more a near perfect geographic representation of it. ... The dirty little secret of Davos is that it's one enormous business opportunity. Financial and industrial titans come not primarily to plot social and political control but to make money, shake hands, ink deals, size up competitors.”

El País (ES) /

Politics regaining the upper hand

Business journalist Wolfgang Münchau argues that the phase of hyper-globalisation is over in El País:

“The rise of hyper-globalisation and modern macroeconomics are intertwined. Macroeconomists supported financial deregulation and free trade agreements that have become increasingly problematic. ... But don’t expect establishment macro to go quietly. Its main defence today is that there is no alternative to the present capitalist system. ... History is full of examples of alternatives that did not exist – until they did. ... My advice to the ageing, mostly male macroeconomists out there: enjoy your retirement on Caribbean beaches. As for us, we live in a world in which politics is once again gaining supremacy over economics, which is how it should be.”

Primorske novice (SI) /

Party time for the rich and powerful

Primorske novice has very low expectations for the event:

“Since the participants of the World Economic Forum in Davos won't agree to tax increases for billionaires, won't prevent the shifting of the profits of multinationals to tax havens and won't renounce luxury, the traditional World Economic Forum summit is just a party for those attending. ... A handful of academics, opinion leaders and representatives of civil society combined with the motto 'Cooperation in a Fragmented World' lend it the appearance of openness and democracy, but this will do nothing to change the impression that the extremely rich are just pretending to care about a better tomorrow for our planet.”

The Spectator (GB) /

A forum for cronyism

The World Economic Forum is about anything but improving free trade, writes The Spectator:

“Anyone who is seriously interested in liberalising markets - both to improve trade and to create the best conditions for rising living standards - knows the last way to go about this is to put the world's politicians and big business leaders in a resort town together. The deals which are struck between government and international companies - that can buy their way into the event - are far more likely to result in protectionist policies to keep the major players on top, making it harder for start-ups and smaller businesses to compete.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Exchange is needed particularly in a crisis

The meeting is enormously important despite the justified criticism, the Frankfurter Rundschau stresses:

“Especially in a time of multiple crises. For how, if not through exchanges between economic and political leaders, can they be solved? Questions on which the future of billions of people hangs demand an answer. What will become of globalisation? What about capitalism? How can security in Europe be organised against Russia? All these questions and more need to be discussed - not only, but also in Davos.”

Público (PT) /

Inequality a threat to democracy and capitalism

Even the rich have good reasons to start thinking about redistribution, Público points out:

“Inequality has become the greatest challenge of our time. The problem does not take the same form in all countries. But it requires a global solution. Free enterprise, democracy and capitalist accumulation cannot survive in a model where, according to the World Bank, 1 percent of the population owns 38 percent of the wealth and 50 percent gets by on 2 percent. The growing resentment and discontent which foment political extremes feed on this unsustainable basis. Stopping this cycle is crucial to save democracy - and capitalism.”