Leaving the Mountain: Davos Diary

(Bloomberg) -- The 50th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum is over.

So what did we learn in the Alps?

As my colleagues Laura Millan Lombrana and Aaron Rutkoff explain, environmental issues were the top discussion topic for the first time ever and may stay there in future years given the heated debate over how to meet the challenge of our times.

Delegates were broadly confident that the world economy will stabilize this year and said it would be up to governments rather than central banks to support it if it swooned again. 

The betting was that President Donald Trump will win reelection in November and the global elite sounded happy with that outlook given his preference for low taxes and light regulation. They’re still unnerved by his protectionism pushes though.

Bankers from the U.S. are happier than their European rivals, while technology giants tried hard to beat back criticism of their role in the modern world.

For all the lessons we learned, read our re-cap of our week at Davos

Catch Up

  • More mature | Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sees the U.S.’s new 20-year bond extending “slightly” the average maturity on government debt as his department prepares to launch that security and limit the cost of financing a budget deficit set to reach $1 trillion this year.
  • Altered carbon | Mnuchin also weighed in on the debate about a carbon tax, saying technological developments would make it redundant.
  • Not on autopilot | European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde warned investors not to assume that current monetary policy is locked in for the foreseeable future just because officials are focused on reviewing their strategy.
  • Climate crisis | Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who called a climate strike for Friday near the forum, slammed Davos delegates for failing to treat global warming as a crisis.
  • Cocktail courtship | Carrie Lam hosted 200 business and political leaders for dim sum and cocktails at a Swiss ski resort Thursday to reassure them that Hong Kong’s future is bright. It was a tough sell.

QuickTake Discussion

Only a small fraction of all plastic produced is recycled, and much of the rest often ends up affecting wildlife in oceans and forests, according to participants in a panel discussion developed with QuickTake by Bloomberg. The use of plastics has doubled in the last two decades, and it’s expected to double again in the next two. “We cannot allow it,” said former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

Quote of the Day

“Trump also said he loves Kim Jong Un — he loves everyone,” said Dr. Yuan Ding, vice president and dean at the China Europe International Business School. “He kisses and then he curses.”

Davos Data Download 

Leaving the Mountain: Davos Diary

The European Union and a group of 16 nations that includes China and Brazil are forming an alliance to settle their trade disputes using an appeals and arbitration system at the World Trade Organization to replace temporarily a process stymied by the U.S. The deal was reached among WTO delegates meeting at the sidelines of the WEF.

One Last Thing...

Underscoring the theme of the week, Larry Fink of BlackRock wore a climate data-themed scarf this week, days after he committed to putting sustainability at the center of his strategy extends to his wardrobe. The Two Degrees Investing Initiative — a global nonprofit think tank that is developing metrics for long-term climate risk for the financial industry — took credit for creating Fink’s scarf in a post on LinkedIn.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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