Curious Capitalist

The 5 Most Important Questions for the Davos Elite

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Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images

I’m in Davos, Switzerland, to cover the World Economic Forum (WEF), the yearly shindig where global VIPs and world leaders — Marissa Mayer, Eric Schmidt, David Cameron, Hassan Rouhani, etc. — and “thought leaders” convene on the Magic Mountain to think Big Thoughts. (The latter, consultants and business types, pay up to $250,000 a pop to rub shoulders with top leaders.) I will be running around in my toasty new microfiber boots and warmest hat trying to see if they can answer the following questions:

  1. Is the U.S. recovery for real? America will probably outgrow the global economy this year for the first time since the financial crisis. But is that because everyone else is in bad shape — the Chinese now require $4 of debt to create every dollar of GDP growth, Europe is turning Japanese, and Japan seems set for another lost decade — or because we’re really turning a corner? In short, can we create something aside from $15-an-hour jobs, which make up six out of the top 10 fastest-growing categories, this year?
  2. Is China going to blow up? See debt numbers, above, as well as growing human-rights clampdowns, more journalists being jailed and the fact that spending on internal police forces dramatically outpaces external-defense spending. China’s leaders are worried about hanging on to power. To do so, they have to upend their growth model in a way that will severely cut into the wealth potential of the top 2,000 or so party officials and business leaders that run things. President Xi Jinping is talking big about reforms, but will it be too little, too late? And if China blows up, what are the global impacts?
  3. What will the political impact of inequality be? The annual WEF global-risk report, which surveys academics and other experts in 70 countries, lists the growing wealth divide as the biggest geopolitical risk today. Elections are coming up this year in many countries with growing inequality, like India. Will populist leaders emerge, and can they carry out the structural reforms necessary to bolster growth and shrink the gap? When does the discontent of the global millennial cohort, nearly half of whom are underemployed or unemployed, finally bubble up into rage with serious social ramifications? Closer to home, how will inequality affect the debate over things like raising the minimum wage and finishing the re-regulation of the financial sector?
  4. In millennials vs. baby boomers, who wins? These two massive groups are squaring off over who gets the largest slice of a shrinking public pie. Look for fierce debates over things like health care benefits vs. education and workforce training. Will millennials finally push a realistic debate over things like entitlement reform in rich countries like the U.S.?
  5. Technology: friend or foe? Big Data is at the heart of many of today’s biggest stories — from security and privacy, to the disruption of nearly every business model on the planet. Will the Silicon Valley VIPs in attendance at Davos be lauded for greasing the wheels of growth, or vilified for not protecting our data and killing off white collar jobs? Watch this space.
12 comments
lordofthefly
lordofthefly

Good luck on getting even half-way reliable answers to any of these. Time should revisit them after Davos and see what results are.

RudyHaugeneder
RudyHaugeneder

The really big challenge is to change the system.


Fewer than a hundred of the richest people worldwide have the same wealth as 3.5 billion of the poorest globally, a report claims.

Research released by charity Oxfam in a new report titled "Working for the Few" released Monday states that the world's 85 wealthiest -- including telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim Helu, Bill Gates and Larry Page -- are worth a collective $1.7 trillion. In comparison, this amount is owned by half of the world's poorest people, a total of roughly 3.5 billion, says a story in SmartPlanet.com.

The global aid organization warned that such disparity in wealth distribution may pose risks to "human progress," and "this massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems."

"Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown," the report says.

The report comes ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos later this week, where political and business figures will meet to discuss disparities in wealth and income, healthcare and climate change.

famulla555555
famulla555555

Research shows that a great leader exudes charisma, ensures inspirational and intellectual stimulation, pays individual attention to the people below him and does not manage by exception or adopt a laissez-faire leadership. Close your eyes and recall a time when you worked with a leader you rank among the best in your life. The chances are that you will think of them as leaders because they had charisma, inspirational and intellectual stimulation, individualised consideration, contingent rewards, and did not manage by exception or adopt a laissez-faire leadership. The work of Bernard M Bass and Bruce J Avolio of the Centre for Leadership Studies at the School of Management in State University of New York Birmingham deserves special mention. The duo's seminal model on leadership factors-enlisted in their work Improving Organizational Effectiveness Through Transformational Leadership-has since been used by many researchers to either drill deeper or aim for a higher abstraction. This article summarises the evidence of a new set of studies done on the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire that Bass and Avolio created to measure the six factors that help describe a person's leadership style. Some key points, the definitions of the components of The Full Range Leadership Model the authors described are important. The definitions are: Charisma Provides followers with a clear sense of purpose that is energising, role model for ethical conduct and builds identification with the leader and his/her articulated views Intellectual stimulation Gets followers to question the tried and tested ways of solving problems and encourages them to question the methods they use to improve upon them Individual attention

Focus on understanding the individualised needs of the followers and works continuously to get them to develop to their full potential Contingent reward Clarifies what is expected from followers and what they will get if they meet expected levels of performance Active management Focus on monitoring task execution for any problems Avoidant leadership Tends to react only after problems have become serious to take corrective action and often avoids making any decision at all. This has some sub factors. The authors found that the best leaders seemed to have a mix of both transactional and transformational leadership. Languages, like our bodies, are in a perpetual flux, and stand in need of recruits to supply those words that are continually falling through disuse. -Cornelius Conway Felton, educator (1807-1862) that may arise and correcting those problems to maintain current performance levels

famulla555555
famulla555555

Your theme, thrhugoout all your posts in various other articles and topics, is that conservatives are extreme , or ultra-right wing , or any number of other descriptive adjectives that you've used here. Explain to me, and the other readers here, exactly how it is extreme thinking that we believe one should pay their own way, that the federal government was not made to socially engineer society, that freedoms and liberties cannot be encroached upon by the federal government, according to the Constitution, that a Constitutionally limited government is what our founders gave us, that history shows the statist mentality does not, and never has, worked successfully, that government doesn't create wealth, only sets up an atmosphere to promote the creation of it, etc., etc., etc. If you call any of the above extreme thinking, then you must believe the founding fathers to have been extremists as well. My guess is that you do not, though, think of any of that as extreme , but are merely using those adjectives in order to shift the window of the range of social acceptance, as Overton described. Such action by you is not being objective' in any sense of the word.Definition of OBJECTIVE1 a : relating to or existing as an object of thought without consideration of independent existence ?used chiefly in medieval philosophyb : of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers : having reality independent of the mind ? compare subjective 3a c of a symptom of disease : perceptible to persons other than the affected individual ? compare subjective 4cd : involving or deriving from sense perception or experience with actual objects, conditions, or phenomena2 : relating to, characteristic of, or constituting the case of words that follow prepositions or transitive verbs3 a : expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations Your views directly contradict that third definition by your insertion of such descriptives as extreme or ultra within your comments regarding the right-wing . Hence, you cannot lay claim to the title of being an objective' commenter, and because of that, no one takes you as a serious contributor. But, by all means continue to use those descriptives in your language. It identifies you as being truly extreme , albeit to the left, in regards to your musings you post here

charlesbwan82
charlesbwan82

@ #1)  Firstly, what recovery? Second, how many dollars of debt has it taken to create the 1.X% of GDP growth in the US in 2013? Or each of the years since 2009? Applying this same logic to the US economy will be interesting to consider, as it's a much larger ratio. The continued negative media out of the US on China is appalling. Fueling an investment led recovery is the only way the US can get out of a continued depressing economy and debt laden government. Any "real" recovery will depend on media propaganda. Uncle Sam wants you, to invest in the USA today!

kcisobderf
kcisobderf

That the phrase "Davos Elite" is used is an excellent reason of why it shouldn't exist. Decisions about how my country treats  me need to be made by a democratically elected government, not some alleged elites who just happen to have lots of money.

lordofthefly
lordofthefly

@RudyHaugeneder

This is true, and it is disturbing.

Basic needs must be met before the world can move ahead dramatically, but this is a bigger problem that all the money in the world can't sufficiently tackle. 


Most people do well in life if they have decent-paying jobs. Even better if they have insurance. But until they get education and/or training, they can't possibly move ahead in the world. That's the fallacy of giving cost of living wages to fry cooks at MacDonalds, for example. It will help only for a time, but not long-range. People need to be taught how to plan more effectively: don't have children they can't support, don't get into unsafe or unhealthy practices (tobacco, drugs, alcohol, too many sex partners), learn to manage money. Otherwise, people don't move ahead. There has always been poverty, and there always will be.

lordofthefly
lordofthefly

@kcisobderf Good point. Maybe they should invite some plain old people to this festivity if they are really looking for answers. Which I doubt they are. It's a big party. Probably lots of shopping and sex.