The world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60% of the planet’s population, according to the latest inequality report from the charity Oxfam.
The climate crisis will loom large over Davos, and Mark Carney, who becomes the new UN special envoy for climate change and finance once his term as governor of the Bank of England ends in mid-March. He will also be the UK’s key adviser for the next UN climate change conference in Glasgow in November (COP26). The other thing on people’s minds are trade disputes.
Philip Shaw, chief economist at Investec, says:
Those surveyed in the WEF’s Global Risks Report 2020 identified economic disputes, including trade tensions, as the number one risk to the global economy this year. Alongside this, “domestic political polarisation” and “extreme heat waves” were flagged as top threats.
We also expect world leaders to debate the 2020 events which have already unfolded and the repercussions of these, not least the US-Iranian conflict. Note that the WEF will get underway hot on the heels of the release of IMF’s World Economic Outlook update, providing the macroeconomic context for the discussions.
Larry Eliott, the Guardian’s economics editor, has looked back at the last few decades since the annual talkfest in the snow started. The World Economic Forum is “committed to improving the state of the world” but in key respects things look worse today than they did in the early 70s.
Introduction: Davos kicks off
Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.
It’s Davos week. Nearly 3,000 people from 117 countries will descend upon the Swiss ski resort this week, including 53 heads of state or government, for the 50th annual gathering of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Even more than last year, it is overshadowed by the escalating climate crisis, and the slowing global economy amid trade tensions.
US president Donald Trump (who faces impeachment at home) is coming again this year, as is the Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. The German chancellor Angela Merkel, European commission president Ursula von der Leyen, and Chinese vice-premier Han Zheng will all be speaking over the next few days.
My colleagues Larry Elliott and Graeme Wearden are on their way to Davos too. Graeme has looked ahead to what the next four days might bring:
Ahead of the event, which is attended by some of the world’s richest people and always attracts scores of protesters, a WEF report said said greater social mobility would help shrink the gap between rich and poor and lift global growth by almost 5% in the next decade. But it found that only a handful of 82 countries surveyed had put in place policies that would foster social mobility.
At lunchtime, we’ll get the latest economic forecasts from the International Monetary Fund.
- 1pm GMT: IMF publishes World Economic Outlook
- 4.30 GMT: World Economic Forum opening ceremony
- 5pm GMT: PwC survey of global CEOs released