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

  • Socks and bonds: Edmonton pals conquer wacky dress sock market

    Economic CTV News
    Two childhood best friends from Edmonton are cashing in on the funky dress sock craze that seems to be sweeping the often bland world of professional menswear. Popular outlandish designs with names like aqua moustaches, surfing sloth, and mint flamingo party have seen Good Luck Sock grow its sales nearly four-fold and double the number of retailers that carry the company’s far-out footwear over the past year. Source
  • Trump's 'Buy American' policy could have major implications for Canada

    Economic CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump has made it clear he wants Buy American rules in the massive infrastructure program he's planning, launching an ardent defence of domestic-purchase requirements that can cause tensions with other countries. Critics of such Buy American provisions say they not only freeze out foreign competition, but hurt Americans too, by driving up the cost of construction, which means taxpayers get fewer roads and bridges for their buck and fewer construction jobs in the long…
  • Ontario steelmaker Stelco seeks court OK for moving ahead with restructuring

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Southern Ontario steelmaker Stelco is seeking court approval to move forward with its restructuring following an agreement with Bedrock Industries. Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa said in a statement Friday that Bedrock's proposal would mean that operations at the Hamilton and Lake Erie facilities would continue and 2,100 jobs would be preserved. Source
  • Cuba, Google strike deal to hike internet speed: sources

    Economic CTV News
    HAVANA -- Google and the Cuban government have struck a deal giving Cubans faster access to the internet giant's content, two people familiar with the agreement said Friday. Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google's parent company, will formally sign the deal Monday morning in Havana, the two people said. Source
  • Ford CEO says Trump threats won't change small car plans

    Economic CTV News
    DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is going ahead with plans to move small-car production from the U.S. to Mexico despite President-elect Donald Trump's recent threats to impose tariffs on companies that move work abroad. CEO Mark Fields said Ford's plan to move production of the Ford Focus from Michigan to Mexico will proceed, in part because U.S. Source
  • Major New York markets hit second consecutive day of record highs

    Economic CBC News
    Major New York stock indexes hit a second consecutive day of record highs while the Toronto stock market continued its six-day rise, continuing a post-U.S. election rally. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average recorded its third consecutive record-breaking day, advancing 142.04 points to 19,756.85. Source
  • Alberta drilling rights auctions deliver lowest payoff in 39 years

    Economic CBC News
    Sales of Crown drilling rights in Alberta have fallen to their lowest levels in 39 years. Statistics posted on the Alberta Energy website this week, following the last auction of 2016, show that oil and gas producers paid $137 million this year for the right to drill oil and gas wells on land where the province owns the mineral rights. Source
  • Trump expected to name a top Goldman exec to economic post

    Economic CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- President-elect Donald Trump is expected to name Gary Cohn, the No. 2 executive at the powerhouse Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs, to a prominent White House economic post. That's according to two people informed of the decision. Source
  • Trump deepens Goldman ties as he builds out economic team

    Economic CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- In the heat of the presidential campaign, Donald Trump accused primary rival Ted Cruz of being controlled by Goldman Sachs because his wife, Heidi, previously worked for the Wall Street giant. He slammed Hillary Clinton for receiving speaking fees from the bank. Source
  • Digital advertising poised for growth next year even as traditional revenues crumble

    Economic CBC News
    Digital advertising will continue to outstrip other media forms this year and next when it comes to bringing in ad dollars, according to a new forecast from media buying company GroupM. Internet advertising is projected to the grow by 18 per cent year-over-year in 2016, and by 15 per cent next year, the New York-based firm said. Source