Global uncertainties expected to dominate Davos meetings

LONDON -- Extremist attacks, plunging markets, and the break-neck pace of technological innovation. The world is beset by uncertainties as 2,500 business executives, political leaders and activists gather in the Swiss Alpine town of Davos this week.

See Full Article

Although the glitzy event, which features speeches, panels and debates, has drawn criticism for being disconnected from the real world, many participants stress the practical advantage of having so many peers in one place.

The meetings can lead to corporate deals and diplomatic dialogue. Last year, Ukraine struck an international bailout deal in Davos.

"A lot of relationships are built and renewed," said John Veihmeyer, chairman of the consulting firm KPMG.

The annual gathering organized by the World Economic Forum is mainly a business event but it has grown over the years to attract world leaders, celebrities, Nobel prize winners and star academics.

This year's meeting is officially about how to harness technological change. In practice, it will be abuzz with discussion about the multitude of risks facing government and business leaders.

Here's a look at what's likely to dominate the meetings.

CHINA

The future of China has become synonymous with the fate of the global economy and financial markets. Concerns about Beijing's ability to handle a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy have caused stocks to plunge this year. The big risk is that China's decline might become disorderly and hammer business activity or trigger a financial crisis. The country is a huge consumer of raw materials and energy from states like Brazil, Australia, and Russia. Its outsize industrial sector buys machinery from the West and makes and exports consumer goods at a low cost. And the growing middle class has become a key market for car makers and luxury goods companies.

Key people to watch: Jack Ma, the head of Chinese retail giant Alibaba, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, and Fang Xinghai, representative of China's financial market regulator.

SECURITY

The threat of extremist attacks of the kind that have hit Paris, Jakarta and Istanbul will be among the top issues, particularly for the political leaders, who will have the opportunity to hold multiple closed-door meetings with their counterparts. The international campaign to fight the Islamic State group has seen several Western countries and Russia bomb Syria and Iraq. The conflict has triggered a mass migration of people into Europe and inflamed tensions between Middle Eastern powers Saudi Arabia and Iran. This month's nuclear test by North Korea will also be a topic of discussion -- particularly after the World Economic Forum cancelled its invitation to the country's delegation over the incident.

Key people: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

OIL

The dramatic slide in energy prices is shaking up companies and economies. While making fuel cheaper for consumers and businesses, the drop in oil prices is also leading to thousands of job cuts in the energy sector and financial instability and poverty in oil-exporting countries like Russia and Venezuela. And world powers' agreement this weekend to lift sanctions on Iran will see the country start pumping millions of barrels of oil into the already oversupplied market, as well as a rush to sign business deals with the country.

Key people: Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim Abdul Aziz Al Assaf, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden, Iraq Prime Minister Haidar Al Abadi.

TECHNOLOGY

This year's meeting is officially focused on how "the fourth industrial revolution" will change every aspect of society, from health to business and travel. Among the most immediate concerns is how to protect companies and governments from cyberattacks as business increasingly goes digital. But participants will also be keen to discuss opportunities created by growing trends such as 3D printing, driverless cars, robotics and new biotechnologies.

Key people: Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google parent company Alphabet, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Nearly 200 countries reached a landmark deal last month in Paris to limit the rise in world temperatures this century. Achieving that promise won't be easy. Shifting to renewable energy and cleaning up greenhouse gases will require technological innovations as well as huge investment -- about $13.5 trillion by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency. To do so, governments will have to attract the private sector's interest. Meanwhile, developing countries trying to bring their populations out of poverty will have to balance the need for cheap -- and more polluting -- energy like coal against the new targets.

Key people: UN climate chief Christina Figueres and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, credited with brokering the Paris deal.

Pan Pylas contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Sears Canada liquidation sales begin at 54 locations across the country

    Economic Toronto Sun
    TORONTO — The liquidation sales at 54 Sears Canada Inc. locations began Friday, a process the company hopes will help it emerge from creditor protection later this year. The process includes 20 full-line, 15 Sears Home, 10 Outlet and nine Hometown locations in every province except Prince Edward Island. Source
  • BP Capital's legendary Boone Pickens takes Texas-sized fall

    Economic CTV News
    The health of T. Boone Pickens, the famed 89-year-old oilfield wildcatter, financier and corporate raider, has taken a turn for the worse after a "Texas-sized fall" put him in the hospital last week. In a posting to LinkedIn, Pickens said that he is still mentally strong but that as far as his life goes, "I clearly am in the fourth quarter. Source
  • Husky Energy reports $93-million loss, adjusted earnings miss estimates

    Economic CTV News
    CALGARY -- Husky Energy is reporting a $93-million loss for its second quarter and just $10 million of adjusted earnings, well below analyst estimates. The three months ended June 30 were also weaker than the first quarter, when Husky had $71 million of adjusted earnings. Source
  • Canada's annual inflation rate slows again, this time to 1.0 per cent in June

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA -- The annual pace of inflation slowed once again last month as lower gasoline and electricity prices helped offset higher costs in most other categories, Statistics Canada said Friday. Overall, the agency's latest inflation report found that prices were one per cent higher in June compared to a year earlier. Source
  • Canada's annual inflation rates eases to 1% in June

    Economic CBC News
    Canada's annual rate of inflation came in at one per cent on a year-over-year basis in June, easing from the 1.3 per gain seen in May, Statistics Canada said Friday. The June figure for the consumer price index came in just below the 1.1 per cent consensus of expectations of economists. Source
  • Canada's annual inflation rate eases to 1% in June

    Economic CBC News
    Canada's annual rate of inflation came in at one per cent on a year-over-year basis in June, easing from the 1.3 per gain seen in May, Statistics Canada said Friday. The June figure for the consumer price index came in just below the 1.1 per cent consensus of expectations of economists. Source
  • Liquidation sales at most Sears stores slated for closure begin today

    Economic CBC News
    Dozens of Sears stores slated for closure begin liquidation sales Friday, but bargain hunters would be wise to temper their expectations, say industry experts. Eager to avoid bankruptcy, the one-time retail giant is counting on hordes of shoppers to scoop up discounted merchandise, fixtures and equipment as soon as possible. Source
  • Encana reports US$331 million profit, says 5-year plan ahead of schedule

    Economic CTV News
    CALGARY - Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA) says its core operations will grow their production even more than expected this year, following a strong second quarter that included a US$331 million net profit. The Calgary-based oil and gas producer, which reports in U.S. Source
  • Judicial watchdog finds no problem with judges attending sponsored cocktail parties

    Economic CBC News
    The Canadian Judicial Council has dismissed complaints against federal judges who attended sponsored cocktail events at an international tax conference in Europe. In a statement released Thursday, the council said that complaints related to two Canadian judges, Justice Randall Bocock and Justice Denis Pelletier, are "unfounded" and that "no further action is required. Source
  • Commons committee to discuss NAFTA renegotiations

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA - U.S.-initiated negotiations to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement are bound to be long and hard. Canadian officials maintain that Mexico is the real target of President Donald Trump's determination to renegotiate what he considers to be a bad deal for America. Source