by WorldTribune Staff, January 16, 2017
As the wave of capitalist populism led by Donald Trump sweeps through a world brimming with economic optimism, elite globalist politicians, CEOs and bankers are chilling in the Swiss Alps – but are in no mood to celebrate, analysts say.
With stock markets booming, oil prices on the rise again and the risks of a rapid economic slowdown in China easing, the global economy is in better shape than it has been in years.
Meanwhile, many high-profile globalists, who last year gave Trump no chance of winning, made their annual trek to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week with a very different outlook.
Trump’s victory, less than half a year after Britain voted to leave the European Union, was seen as a slap at the principles the Davos elites hold dear, from globalization and free trade to multilateralism.
Trump, whose inauguration fittingly coincides with the final day of this year’s Davos gathering, “is the poster child for a new strain of populism that is spreading across the developed world and threatening the post-war liberal democratic order,” a Jan. 15 Reuters analysis said. “With elections looming in the Netherlands, France, Germany, and possibly Italy, this year, the nervousness among Davos attendees is palpable.”
Moises Naim of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace noted “there is a consensus that something huge is going on, global and in many respects unprecedented. But we don’t know what the causes are, nor how to deal with it.”
The titles of the discussion panels at this years Davos forum include “Squeezed and Angry: How to Fix the Middle Class Crisis”, “Politics of Fear or Rebellion of the Forgotten?”, “Tolerance at the Tipping Point?” and “The Post-EU Era”.
“Regardless of how you view Trump and his positions, his election has led to a deep, deep sense of uncertainty and that will cast a long shadow over Davos,” said Jean-Marie Guehenno, CEO of International Crisis Group, a conflict resolution think-tank.
“If you want to find people who are going to rally together and say capitalism is fundamentally broken, Davos is not the place to go,” said Ian Bremmer, president of U.S.-based political risk consultancy Eurasia Group.
Guy Standing, the author of several books on the new “precariat”, a class of people who lack job security and reliable earnings, believes more people are coming around to the idea that free-market capitalism needs to be overhauled, including those that have benefited most from it.
“The mainstream corporate types don’t want Trump and far-right authoritarians,” said Standing, who has been invited to Davos for the first time. “They want a sustainable global economy in which they can do business. More and more of them are sensible enough to realize that they have overreached.”
Bremmer is not so sure. He recounted a recent trip to Goldman Sachs headquarters in New York where he saw bankers “rejoicing in the elevators” at the surge in stock markets and the prospect of tax cuts and deregulation under Trump.