Monday's Musings: The Davos Agenda Versus Public Trust
Davos Is The Place For Ideas and Elite Networking
The World Economic Forum (WEF) will hold its annual meeting January 16th to January 20th in Davos, Switzerland. Over 2500 delegates from 1000 companies and thousands of additional attendees gather to discuss international trade, business practices, government, politics, economics, and society. While the official meeting is a series of highly PR reviewed and crafted statements, the real conversations happen in the serendipitous environments around the conference. The networking throughout the town at hotels, on the Promenade, and at unofficial Davos events or known as UnDavos are where entrepreneurs, investors, and influencers convene to create the next big idea.
The WEF Crowd Seeks A "Great Reset"
Since 2020 the World Economic Forum has been pushing its Davos Manifesto, a series of ethical principles and policy positions members have been coalescing around to address a new world order. WEF sees a need to address a “brittle system” by influencing business leaders, the political class, and academia with its point of view. Using private-public partnerships or PPP's, the organization pushes their policy initiatives into the boardrooms and hallowed halls of power around the world. Klaus Schwab, the founder of the WEF and other prominent business leaders have rallied around key themes such as:
- Forcing actions to reduce climate change despite market conditions
- Pushing for stakeholder capitalism over shareholder capitalism
- Advocating for globalization over nationalism
- Supporting big pharma over independent medicine
- Harnessing technology for greater control versus championing individual freedom
- Forcing a global competitive level playing field instead of enabling market based approaches
- Reducing inequality of income
- Addressing wage gaps
- Achieving zero tolerance for corruption
2023 Agenda Extends On Fourth Industrial Revolution Theme
While the May 2022 meeting was unusual after an 18 month hiatus, the WEF set sought hard to psych the world into a recession. This year's meeting will attempt to stem the tide of fragmentation and push for corporations to take on more policies that align with many of the United Nations 17 sustainable development goals such as:
Economic growth and resilience. The creation of a Resilience Consortium is designed to bring leaders in public sector, business, academia, and international organizations to plan for the next crises ahead.
Globalization. The Davos set have faced criticism as the rise of deglobalization and nationalism have attacked the notion of open borders and a global unelected elite dictating terms to citizens of nation states. The Reimagination of Globalization attempts to convince the world that in the aftermath of the pandemic global leaders must take a stakeholder approach and address global interdependencies
Sustainability. WEF estimates that $4 trillion is needed to address climate change. Leaders are trying to push Net Zero and Net Negative carbon emissions policies around the world to address the transition to sustainable economies. A large number of sessions will focus on sustainability as well as energy and food security.
Parity and equality. Building on many of the diversity, equity, and inclusion principles , the WEF seek to push this agenda in every aspect of society.
Lack of Public Trust In The Expert Class Drive Fragmentation
The notion of elites making decisions for the rest of the world and academic experts deciding policies without public input has eroded faith and public trust over the past decade. Political systems have been challenged by a push to deglobalization and nationalism as the expert class has failed to deliver results and have not taken accountability for their mass failures. For the general populace to trust the experts will require much more policy and debate than the expert class is willing to tolerate. But without the public input, fragmentation will only increase not decrease and resentment will only grow, not lessen. Yet, many of these leaders seek to force these policies through public, private, partnerships without citizen input.
For example, rising energy prices have mainly come from a rush to an energy transition without a full accounting of the cost benefit analysis. What may take 50 years is being pushed into 20 years. The push to electrify has left Europe without redundant systems and a dependency on hostile neighbors. A smarter move would have been a shift to natural gas and small modular nuclear reactors. In California, the push to electrify vehicles and remove gas stoves comes as unfunded mandates without further investment in the electrical grid and infrastructure potentially leaving many residents without reliable power and some of the highest electrical prices in the United States.
While globalization has led to lower prices for goods and services, this has come at an economic cost and societal cost to the middle class requiring two income families to make up for wage losses and a massive knowledge transfer of critical intellectual property to hostile regimes. This dependence on hostile governments have put countries under economic and military threat for key pharmaceuticals to the control of rare earths needed for green energy initiatives.
In addition the growing debt levels from governments buying votes for tax breaks, economic incentives, corporate lobbyists, free education, subsidized food, and healthcare have added to the rising inflation and higher interest rates wreaking havoc on economies around the world. Unfortunately most governments have not been able to control spending and take a long-term view. With population declines among the wealthy democracies and higher benefit outlays due to aging, these factors will compound existing economic pressures unless exponential improvements in automation and robotics emerge.
The Bottom Line: Seven Uber Trends Dominate The Decade
As the WEF set deliberate on their set of issues, larger uber trends will continue to influence most aspects of politics, economics, society, technology, environment, and legislation (PESTEL). Constellation's Futurist Framework builds on seven consistent uber trends. These uber trends power the PESTEL analysis used to determine the business and technology futurist frameworks known as AstroCharts. Here are the seven uber trends:
- Globalists vs Nationalists. Those who believe they should do good for their citizens battle those who believe in open borders and globalism.
- US vs China. The two global superpowers continue to battle on all fronts from economy, politics, society, technology, environment, and legislation.
- BRICS vs G7. Expect Brazil, Russia, India, China, and Saudi Arabia to improve cooperation as they battle the established G7 powers.
- Centralization vs decentralization. A push to use digital technologies for population control challenges new efforts to preserve individual rights and freedoms.
- War on the dollar. Global powers seek to challenge the hegemony of the world's reserve currency. From crypto currencies to new alliances, expect the continued effort to dethrone the US dollar.
- Experts vs the general public. The expert class seeks to force their policies on the unsuspecting general public. However, modern global networks now shed transparency and accountability on failed expert policies creating massive fragementation between the experts and the average individual.
- Attack on institutions. Trust continues to erode among all public institutions as extreme left and right groups chip away at existing power bases.
Can an organization like WEF rally the world to prevent fragmentation? Do you see WEF as a force of good or evil? What can we do to truly improve the lives of everyone?
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