Is global economic inequality getting worse?

Yes, said the majority of respondents in a recent GZERO poll.

What's happening in Ukraine has undone much of the momentum for narrowing the equality gap created during the pandemic, said Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media, during a Global Stage livestream conversation hosted by GZERO in partnership with Microsoft. The event was held on site at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington, DC , and was moderated by Jeanna Smialek, Federal Reserve reporter at The New York Times. The war has aggravated pre-existing problems like high inflation and supply chain disruptions. A cease-fire would help end all this, but don't count on it.

This week the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are holding their annual spring meetings. The conflict is top and center on the agenda, as is financial assistance to first help Ukraine keep the lights on and someday rebuild when the Russians leave.


"We're working on that," World Bank President David Malpass said upon joining the discussion just minutes after meeting Ukrainian officials. Beyond the conflict itself, Malpass is now more broadly concerned about the global economic slowdown and whether central banks have the tools for a soft landing after raising interest rates to fight inflation.

One country that's successfully stood up to the Russian threat is Lithuania, whose Finance Minister Gintarė Skaistė talked about her country's long-term energy independence strategy. Lithuania recently became the first EU member state to completely wean itself off Russian fossil fuels.

And what about the ripple effects from the conflict in other parts of the world, like food security? This is a big deal in countries in the Middle East and North Africa that rely heavily on Russian and Ukrainian wheat imports like Egypt.

Rania Al-Mashat, Egyptian minister for international cooperation, explained how her country diversified its food imports to soften the impact of such disruptions.

Later this year, Egypt is hosting the COP27 climate summit. But even more importantly, right before that meeting there will be a G20 summit in Indonesia — and Russia's invited.

What'll happen? Will the US and its allies walk out of rooms when the Russians show up? The G20 consensus has been fragmented, said Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati. Indeed it has, added Bremmer, who believes the war in Ukraine is "ripping up the fabric of geopolitics" for years to come.

Finally, Vickie Robinson, head of Microsoft's Airband Initiative to expand broadband access throughout the developing world, shared her perspective about how getting more people online will help achieve global equality.

More from Global Stage

Highlights from Davos 2022

World leaders gathered this week in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum at a moment of heightened global uncertainty. Three months into the Russian war in Ukraine, the conflict seems no closer to resolution. A global food crisis — made worse by the war — is putting more than a billion people at risk of food insecurity. Meanwhile, cyberattacks and misinformation continue to wreak havoc around the globe. The world faces many dangerous challenges, but the biggest one may be this: “you can’t solve a problem unless you agree on what the problem is,” says GZERO’s Ian Bremmer.

The yet-unseen consequences of Russia's war in Ukraine

World leaders attending the 2022 World Economic Forum in Davos know there's a crisis going on — but Ian Bremmer thinks they are still unaware of the first- and second-order consequences of Russia's war in Ukraine. First, "people are mostly thinking about this as a war inside Ukraine. It's not a war in Ukraine. It's actually a war between Russia and NATO," the president of GZERO Media said Global Stage livestream conversation hosted by GZERO in partnership with Microsoft.

Moisés Naim: With inflation & low trust in democracy, Latin America faces perfect storm for nasty politics

How much power does the World Economic Forum in Davos still have? For Moisés Naim. distinguished fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, not much, and this year's leitmotif is confusion, he tells Ian Bremmer in a Global Stage interview. And what about Latin America's future? He sees a"very dangerous convergence of inflation and disappointment with democracy that could result in "a perfect storm to create nasty politics" in the region.

Wolfgang Ischinger: Ukraine made German foreign policy go "out the window"

For Wolfgang Ischinger, former chair of the Munich Security Conference, the state of transatlantic relations is in good shape right now, although whether we'll have the stamina to stay on course is uncertain. In a Global Stage interview with Ian Bremmer, he seems more worried about American war fatigue than the Europeans — although the EU has Viktor Orbán and it's hard for Germany to cut off Russian gas. One lesson Ischinger has learned from the current crisis is that Europe must have America's back on China, especially with Taiwan. And he calls German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's recent foreign policy U-turns as "going out the window."

Exports controls are "worst possible" thing to do in a food crisis, says UN Foundation chief

The war in Ukraine has aggravated a global food crisis that started with the pandemic. Is there anything we can do about it? The UN is trying, but there needs to be a much more ambitious response to what is already a catastrophic humanitarian crisis, UN Foundation President Elizabeth Cousens said during a Global Stage livestream discussion hosted by GZERO in partnership with Microsoft at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Gillian Tett: Ukraine knows how to get what it wants from the West

The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, is not known for big outbursts of human emotion. But this year, the Ukrainian delegation got a standing ovation from the usual crowd of global business leaders. Gillian Tett, US editor-at-large and chair of the Financial Times board, met with the Ukrainians and shares her perspective with Ian Bremmer in a Global Stage interview.

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