Yes, for the third day over 2600 of the Sincerely Elite, including 40 heads of state, 20 Heads of Central Banks, multinational CEOs, elite politicians, academics, faux-lanthropists (maybe even a real one or two) and culture heroes are meeting to Solve the Problems of the World at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. This year’s theme is indeed: ‘Reshaping the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business’ Oh, such heady workshops will be going on, and it’s possible some folks will even attend a few, while others are just there to rub elbows for the shivers of it, and you know, network to gain new clients and stakeholders in their chosen Profiteering Schemes. They will pamper themselves even more with tea tastings, spas, meditation with Goldie Hawn, and above all: the shared joy of being included in such an august and special group. In case you’re interested, The Wall Street Journal has put together a searchable database of all the people attending Davos this year. You can find it here. As recently as two years ago, nationals were in groupings of their own; not now.
But believe me: they also care about the little people, whether because they fear guillotines, just for the optics of it, or the oft-stated problems attendant with ‘failing governments’ being financially anathema to them, well, you be the judge. Let’s listen to some of what’s on tap for our Global Worthy Class in ‘World Economic Forum warns income gap a growing global threat’:
The WEF Global Risks 2014 Report (pdf) can be found here, as can be ‘Related Subjects’. I wrote a post on the 2012 Report, and the great hilarity of what Dr. Stuart Bramhall found inside. One snippet from the Risk Report concerned threats to the MOTUs and ‘the seeds of dystopia’ being sown and endangering the economic gains of globalization. (Hint: almost no one read it, lol.)
‘Having tracked anti-globalization activism over the years, she was curious as to whether or not Occupy had been mentioned in the report, and sure enough, under the heading ‘Emphasis on Global Social Unrest’, there it was:
“Two dominant issues of concern emerged from the Arab Spring, the ‘Occupy’ movements worldwide and recent similar incidents of civil discontent: the growing frustration among citizens with the political and economic establishment, and the rapid public mobilization enabled by greater technological connectivity.”
Okay. The Davos Crème de la Crème have been given fair warning, right? ‘Hello, folks; unless you all address what the report has dubbed ‘income inequality’, your profits may falter somewhat.
“These risks in tandem threaten global growth as they are drivers of nationalism, populism and protectionism at a time when the world remains vulnerable to systemic financial shocks, as well as possible food and water crises.”
But let’s hear from Martin Wolf, key economist at the Financial Times; he’s one of the world economists people stop what they’re doing, and listen, when he speaks. So: Shhhhh!
Well, ain’t it good to know that ‘business’ was so smart that the global financial community was smart enough to rebound after 2008? Yeah, not mention of the $13 trillion that just the US Fed helped ‘business’ with, oh, no. Oh, yeah, and they learned a lot about risk, asset bubbles, the value of banking regulations, including what impediments to the free market they can be. Ah, the crisis is past, and it’s so boring to speak about it any longer. A few mistakes, of course… ‘No disaster for them, no mention of the 99%. Financial Elites aren’t always perfect (Wolf’s column) , yada, yada. And oooh, China!
Speaking of Pampered Elites and Elbows, as promised, Arianna Huffington launched at least the HuffPo tab of The World Post at the WEF (h/t ChePasa). It’s heavy with self-congratulatory posts from D-D-Davos. You can follow her adorable Tweets and photos on mindfulness, health, sleep, and whatnot here.
Buzzwords are heavy as ever in Davos, of course, and public-private, free market, cooperative agreements, networking, future trends, cyberspace threats, and tra la la. Those themes recur in the one ‘Risk’ category that interested me most: ‘Agriculture and Food Security’, given all we know about the inherent unsustainability of BigAg, monocultures, and the dangers of RoundUp Ready crops, herbicides, pesticide-resistant GMOs, and the fact that folks like Bill Gates and Bono are two of the Stars behind the galloping movement. (See: Bono, Obama and the G-8 Ally with Monsanto to Bio-Wreck African Agriculture’). From the page, ‘Our New Vision of Agriculture’:
‘The project is led by 33 global partner companies of the World Economic Forum who provide strategic leadership and championship of the initiative. These include:
AGCO Corporation, Anheuser-Busch InBev, A.P. Møller-Maersk, BASF SE, Bayer CropScience AG, Bunge Limited, Cargill Incorporated, Carlsberg, CF Industries Holdings Inc., The Coca-Cola Company, Diageo Plc., DuPont, General Mills Inc., HEINEKEN, International Finance Corporation, Mondelez International, Monsanto Company, The Mosaic Company, Nestlé SA, Novozymes, OCP Group, PepsiCo Inc., Rabobank International, Royal DSM, SABMiller, Sinar Mas Agribusiness & Food, Swiss Reinsurance Company, Syngenta Crop Protection AG, Unilever, United Phosphorus Ltd, Wilmar International Limited, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and Yara International ASA.’
How nice: Many are not only makers of pesticides, herbicides, and specialists in transgenic crops and seeds, but also have divisions for mining and drilling for their own petroleum and chemicals to be used for ‘farming’. BASF also researches (OMG) Nutrigenomics, a subject that will no doubt give you the shivers; and not the good kind.
So, yes, the Oligarchs intend to help us in so many ways, but make some mighty fortunes along the way. Unless, of course, these ‘Transformation Network Leaders’ unwittingly kill the entire planet’s food system with ‘their vision’ that includes right now ‘national and regional partnerships in 14 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and engages over 250 organizations globally’. The the Grow Africa partnership grieves me totally, given its current recolonization by Western Powers.
But at least they are honest about their capitalistic Visionary Feed the World plot: ‘to develop a shared agenda for action and foster multistakeholder collaboration to achieve sustainable agricultural growth through market-based solutions.’
Because Mr. Market. And ah….doncha love the weighty buzzwords? So many, so over-represented. Know what else is over-represented at Davos? The Male of the species. Fun fact: Of the 2,633 people due to attend Davos, only 395 are women. Last year, 17pc of participants were female, this year it’s 15pc. USians were right in there with 20%. “You’ve come a long way, baby” (h/t marym in IL).
But what would the World Economic Forum be without Future Predictions? Let’s hear from Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, shall we? ‘What lies ahead for the economy in 2014?’:
- ‘We have certainly avoided the worst-case scenario (Great Depression II) over the past five years, thanks to the efforts of global policymakers – particularly the determination of central banks to keep global interest rates low and to support the financial system, coupled with fiscal stimulus in some countries. But the time has come to push further, including by using the room created by unconventional monetary policies to implement structural reforms that can jump-start growth and create jobs. [snip]
The United States has long been the main engine driving the global economy, and private demand there has regained vigor. But key challenges lie ahead. For example, it is vitally important that policymakers follow through on the recent budget agreement and end the political wrangling over the country’s fiscal future. Greater certainty about the direction of policy could restore growth to a level that would lift the entire global economy.’
Glad to know that ‘we’ escaped the worst-case scenario, Ms. Lagarde. The view from the top o’ the mountain must be exquisite! Did you know that Davos was the setting for Thomas Mann’s rather metaphysical novel The Magic Mountain?
To lighten the heavy mood a bit, this video I used in one of those links up yonder, from the folks at Puppergov.org, ‘World Uprising the antidote to the New World Order’. Really, Zbig? Hope you’re right. Do name any of the radicals you recognize; I can’t place a few of them.
(cross-posted at My.firedoglake.com)