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 executive chairman steps away to make bid for retailer

    Economic Toronto Sun
    TORONTO — Sears Canada executive chairman Brandon Stranzl is stepping away from his role to launch a bid for the beleaguered retailer, which is restructuring under court protection from creditors. A memo to staff Wednesday about his departure from the top job said the company’s goal is to create a path to emerge from creditor protection. Source
  • CIBC takes over PC Financial bank accounts, launches Simplii banking brand

    Economic Toronto Sun
    The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is taking over President’s Choice Financial bank accounts with a new online brand as it responds to the continuing trend towards digital banking. The Toronto-based bank said Wednesday it will cut its nearly 20-year relationship with PC Financial-owner Loblaw Companies Ltd. Source
  • Asian shares rise higher after gains on Wall Street

    Economic CTV News
    TOKYO - Asian shares were mostly higher Thursday in narrow trading, tracking gains overnight on Wall Street. Japan's Nikkei 225 index slipped as the yen strengthened against the U.S. dollar. KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 index edged 0.1 per cent lower to 19,718.09. Source
  • Belgium joins legal action against tainted egg 'cheats'

    Economic CTV News
    BRUSSELS -- Belgium's Agriculture Minister Denis Ducarme says the government will join in legal action against those responsible for the egg contamination scandal, which has hit at least 17 countries. Ducarme told The Associated Press Wednesday that "the Belgian government wants to take part in civil proceedings. Source
  • Sears Canada chairman steps down so he can bid to buy retailer

    Economic CBC News
    The executive chairman of Sears Canada has stepped down in order to head up a bid to buy the company. According to an employee memo obtained by CBC News, Brandon Stranzl will step away from his day-to-day operations at the company to instead focus on putting together a bid to buy the company and keep it going once it emerges from its current restructuring. Source
  • Sears Canada executive chairman steps down to make bid for retailer

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - Sears Canada executive chairman Brandon Stranzl is stepping away from his role to launch a bid for the retailer, which is restructuring under court protection from creditors. A memo to staff says the goal is to create a path for the company to emerge from creditor protection. Source
  • GM shares to be delisted from TSX in November

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - General Motors Co. (TSX: GMM.U) is delisting its shares from the Toronto Stock Exchange in Canada effective at the end of November. The company's shares will still be traded in New York. Source
  • Resale homes should carry energy use label by 2019, environmental groups say

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA - A coalition of environmental groups wants to see homes listed for resale in Canada to carry information about how much energy they use. Ten organizations, including the Pembina Institute, the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance and The Atmospheric Fund, want the federal government to implement nearly two dozen policies to cut energy use in commercial and residential buildings. Source
  • Judge OKs Takata request to halt some lawsuits over air bags

    Economic CTV News
    DOVER, Del. -- A Delaware bankruptcy judge is temporarily halting the prosecution of lawsuits filed by Hawaii, New Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against Japanese auto-parts supplier Takata over its lethally defective air bag inflators. Source
  • What's coming for President's Choice Financial customers when CIBC sets up Simplii

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- How President's Choice Financial customers will be affected by the creation of Simplii Financial, a new brand from CIBC, which will absorb the accounts of some two million current PC Financial account holders. Source