GZERO Media logo

Clouds Over Davos

Clouds Over Davos

Every year, heads of state, top corporate executives, and thought leaders gather for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Three big storm clouds hang over this year's summit—providing a fitting backdrop for the global elite to mull the challenges now roiling societies around the world.

First, domestic politics has forced a number of world leaders to abandon their Davos plans. These high-profile absences speak to a broader trend: the tenets of open borders, free capital flows, and global competition long favored by the Davos crowd have undermined political stability.

Here's a look at who is not attending and why:

  • US President Donald Trump canceled his trip as a government shutdown over a border wall intended to slow the flow of migrants across the southern US border enters its thirty-second day.
  • UK Prime Minister Theresa May is still dealing with the aftermath of a failed Brexit vote last week. In voting for Brexit, Britons rejected the idea that interconnectedness is an undeniable force for good.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron continues to grapple with ongoing Yellow Vest protests, a movement of middle class anger and angst that reflects the contribution of hyper-globalization to increasing national inequality.
  • And Chinese President Xi Jinping opened a meeting on Monday of Communist Party officials from across the country on the management of economic risks, as new data showed China's economy growing at its slowest pace since 1990 (see graphic below). Xi is under growing political pressure at home as he contends with US protectionism.

Second, the global economic outlook is starting to sour, in part due to the US-China trade conflict. Disruptive competition rather than productive cooperation is now the name of the game.

  • The IMF announced yesterday that the world is expected to grow at a slower clip over the next two years.

Third, world leaders are grappling with a slew of deepening structural challenges. Inequality, climate change, and technological disruption are among the topics that the decision-makers gathering in Switzerland will struggle to get to grips with this week.

  • On inequality, a new report from Oxfam – released to coincide with Davos – shows that the world's 26 richest people own as much as half the planet's people. Addressing such large disparities may require coordinated action at the global level – some, for example, have proposed a wealth tax. But despite their profound impact, there's little sense of urgency to act on any of the issues.

In Davos, the party goes on. But each passing year leaves us with less confidence that openness to the free flow of ideas, information, people, money goods and services is destined to continue.

Microsoft released a new annual report, called the Digital Defense Report, covering cybersecurity trends from the past year. This report makes it clear that threat actors have rapidly increased in sophistication over the past year, using techniques that make them harder to spot and that threaten even the savviest targets. For example, nation-state actors are engaging in new reconnaissance techniques that increase their chances of compromising high-value targets, criminal groups targeting businesses have moved their infrastructure to the cloud to hide among legitimate services, and attackers have developed new ways to scour the internet for systems vulnerable to ransomware. Given the leap in attack sophistication in the past year, it is more important than ever that steps are taken to establish new rules of the road for cyberspace: that all organizations, whether government agencies or businesses, invest in people and technology to help stop attacks; and that people focus on the basics, including regular application of security updates, comprehensive backup policies, and, especially, enabling multi-factor authentication. Microsoft summarized some of the most important insights in this year's report, including related suggestions for people and businesses.

Read the whole post and report at Microsoft On The Issues.

On Tuesday night, you can finally watch Trump and Biden tangle on the debate stage. But you TOO can go head to head on debate night .. with your fellow US politics junkies.

Print out GZERO's handy debate BINGO cards and get ready to rumble. There are four different cards so that each player may have a unique board. Every time one of the candidates says one of these words or terms, X it on your card. First player to get five across wins. And if you really want to jazz it up, you can mark each of your words by taking a swig of your drink, or doing five burpees, or donating to your favorite charity or political candidate. Whatever gets you tipsy, in shape, or motivated, get the bingo cards here. It's fight night!

More Show less

GZERO Media, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Eurasia Group, today hosted its second virtual town hall on the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine and the challenges of its distribution.

The panel was moderated by New York Times science and health reporter Apoorva Mandavilli and featured Gates Foundation's Deputy Director of Vaccines & Human Immunobiology, Lynda Stuart; Eurasia Group's Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director of Energy, Climate & Resources; Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman; and Gayle E. Smith, the president & CEO of ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Watch the full video above.

The enormous scale of the coronavirus pandemic was captured earlier this week as the global death toll surpassed 1 million people. As the weight of the grim milestone sunk in, the New York Times noted that COVID-19 has now killed more people this year than the scourges of HIV, malaria, influenza, and cholera — combined. While some countries like Germany and South Korea are models in how to curb the virus' spread through social distancing and mask wearing, other countries around the world have recently seen caseloads surge again, raising fears of a dreaded "second wave" of infections. Here's a look at countries where the per-capita caseload has spiked in recent days.

Donald Trump's presidency has irked a lot of people around the world. And in fairness, that's no surprise. He was elected in part to blow up long-standing assumptions about how international politics, trade, and diplomatic relations are supposed to work.

But while he has correctly identified some big challenges — adapting NATO to the 21st century, managing a more assertive China, or ending America's endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — his impulsive style, along with his restrictions on trade and immigration, have alienated many world leaders. Global polls show that favorable views of the US have plummeted to all-time lows in many countries, particularly among traditional American allies in Europe.

More Show less
UNGA banner


Subscribe to GZERO Media's Newsletter: Signal