(CNN) — The skies above Switzerland are buzzing with activity this week as planes carry business leaders, political leaders, media pundits and billionaires to Davos for the World Economic Forum (WEF), an annual gathering where the elite compete over $150 steaks And discuss the most pressing issue of the year over a $40 martini.
More than 60 heads of state will attend this year, including Israeli President Isaac Herzog; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky; French President Emmanuel Macron; and China’s The second person is Li Qiang. The United States will also send Secretary of State Antony Blinken; National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan; and Presidential Climate Envoy John Kerry.
Corporate executives include Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella; OpenAI CEO Sam Altman; JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon; Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan ; BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, among others.
This is as close as we’ll get to seeing one of the most influential people in the world pass by.
The world votes
With several major countries about to hold important elections this year (half the world’s population will go to the polls in 2024), leaders are worried about how these developments will reshape international alliances and economic policy.
Of particular interest are the US Republican primaries and the performance of Donald Trump, who won the first Republican race of 2024 in Iowa last night.
BlackRock Vice President Philipp Hildebrand spoke to CNN’s Richard Quest on Monday about Trump’s reelection candidacy. “This is a threat that worries people to a large extent, but it could also be a wake-up call (for Europe),” said .
There are also important elections this year in Taiwan, India and Mexico.
Climate change has become a hot topic as leaders meet to discuss the balance between economic growth and sustainability.
Just days before Davos, scientists around the world reported that average temperatures hit a new record last year. This change puts the world just one hundredth of a degree away from critical climate thresholds.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report released last week concluded that climate change is one of the biggest risks facing the world.
The report also noted weak cooperation among world leaders on the issue. So while leaders may debate fossil fuel use and green development, there may not be much consensus.
The World Economic Forum said rising temperatures, an increase in extreme weather events such as floods and forest fires, could lead to a “global catastrophe” within 10 years.
A decade of missed opportunities
In a world still recovering from the economic fallout of the pandemic, where income inequality is staggeringly high, the global economy may become the most contentious topic.
The World Bank announced last week that global economic growth could slow to its worst five-year period in three decades. The bank said it would be a “decade of wasted opportunity” without a “significant change of direction”.
“It’s going to be very difficult to make money,” Norges Bank CEO Nicolai Tangen told CNN’s Quest in Davos. The bank manages Norway’s $1.4 trillion government pension fund and calls itself It is the world’s largest individual investor in the stock market.
“I think ending inflation is going to be difficult, and we’re seeing rising wages in many parts of the world. Now the weather is affecting inflation, transport routes are being affected and the geopolitics are not good, so things don’t look particularly good.” Good. ,”He said.
The potential of artificial intelligence to transform the economy and its ethical implications will be another central topic this week.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), nearly 40% of global jobs could be affected by the rise of artificial intelligence, a trend that could exacerbate inequality.
In a post on her blog on Sunday, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva called on governments to create social safety nets and provide professional retraining programs to offset the impact of artificial intelligence.
“In most cases, AI is likely to exacerbate overall inequality, a worrying trend that policymakers must proactively address to prevent the technology from further exacerbating social tensions,” he wrote ahead of the World Economic Forum meeting. .” The topic will feature prominently on the conference agenda.
Concerns about artificial intelligence interfering with elections are also among the biggest risks in 2024, according to a report from the World Economic Forum.
OpenAI’s Altman and Microsoft’s Nadella will speak in Davos as part of a program that includes a debate on whether generative artificial intelligence can spark another industrial revolution.
With conflicts in Europe and the Middle East and rising tensions between the United States and China, geopolitics will be another major topic.
Leaders met in Davos on Sunday to discuss Ukraine’s president’s ten-point peace plan aimed at ending Russia’s war with Ukraine. Zelensky is expected to speak later Tuesday and meet with JPMorgan’s Dimon.
The Israeli president will join Klaus Schwab, U.S. Secretary of State and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, for a dialogue on “Security and Cooperation in a Broken World” later this year.
The world’s five richest people have more than doubled their wealth since 2020
As my colleague Tammy Luby reports, five of the richest people on Earth have gotten richer in recent years.
Net worth of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, as of 2020; Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH; Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon; Larry E. Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle; and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett’s share of earnings after accounting for inflation, according to Oxfam’s annual inequality report released on Sunday. Total wealth soared 114% to $869 billion.
If current trends continue, the world could have its first billionaire in a decade.
At the same time, nearly 5 billion people around the world have become poorer and have to face inflation, war and the climate crisis. On the current trajectory, it will take nearly 230 years to eradicate poverty.
Nabil Ahmed, Oxfam America’s director of racial and economic justice, said that while inequality is growing, there are some bright spots. Workers mobilized through strikes and agreements to improve their pay and working conditions. In addition, some governments have been on their side, pursuing policies aimed at strengthening workers’ rights.
“We are in a new golden age, but workers, regulators, unions and community organizers are starting to address this issue,” Ahmed said.
Why do Americans buy so much less Champagne?
Champagne sales have lost some steam in 2023, my colleague Jordan Valinksy reports, after the end of Covid-19 lockdowns drove them to several record years.
Total sparkling wine shipments from France fell to 299 million bottles last year, down 8.2% from 2022, the Champagne Council, the trade association representing more than 16,000 grape growers and 320 Champagne houses, said in a new report.
This marks a return almost to pre-COVID-19 levels, when 297.3 million bottles were shipped. At its peak in 2022, sales surged 33%, with shipments reaching 325 million bottles.
But don’t cry for Moët. He said in a statement from the committee that despite the fall in total shipments, the financial health of many Champagne brands was less affected because they sold more expensive labels, allowing them to keep sales at 20% over the year. More than €6 billion ($6.6 billion).