– Davos elite hear warnings of complacency akin to 2007 as economic risks grow
– Toxic mix of infallible belief, arrogance, megalomania and economic ignorance
– Some express concern economies are vulnerable due to imbalances, trade, geo-political tensions
– Soros: Trump creating ‘mafia state’ & ‘set on a course towards nuclear war’ with N Korea
– Bond bear market, rising interest rates and massive $233 trillion debt are some of the many threats to global stability
– Davos theme explores massive inequality across the globe while eating $60 hamburgers
– Thousand private jets fly as some attendees lecture poor and middle classes about their fossil fuel consumption
– Blockchain has potential to revolutionise the world of money and foster equality – if not co-opted by elites
– Better spending $100,000 on physical gold stored in vault in Switzerland then $100k to attend Davos
By Jan Skoyles. Editor Mark O’Byrne
Two years ago I was fortunate enough to be invited to the World Economic Forum at Davos. The invite and events were paid for but everything else was not. This gave me an interesting insight into how the other half (read: 1%) live whilst not enjoying all the spoils of the forum.
Davos for 51 weeks of the year is a fairly bog-standard Swiss ski resort, no more special than others in the surrounding areas. But when the World Economic Forum and world’s elites are in town a normal hotel room suddenly costs $500 and you have to hand over $60 for a hamburger.
Needless to say I found myself a hotel room an hour’s drive away from Davos and stocked up at the hotel breakfast.
We hired ourselves a little Vauxhall Astra and set-off for Davos each day. On the drive into Davos you are pulled over at various check-points by armed police who are clearly wondering why someone in their ski gear (it’s the only warm thing I own) and a tiny rental is heading in that direction. You have to prove that you have a access to the WEF events whilst passport and your car are checked to ensure you’re not going to disrupt the air of calm and power.
The cost of securing Davos is reportedly over $9 million. The whole time you are proving that you are not a security threat multiple helicopters are passing over head bringing those that the armed men are protecting, straight into the heart of the mountain village. Here shops have been converted into hubs by big banks and tech companies looking to host the global elite and black town-cars wait in disabled bays for their clients to finish the latest ground-breaking speech or key meeting.
Source: Twitter via Europa Guardian (@EuGu_) January 21, 2018
The cost of admission to Davos is made up of the membership fee (over $50,000) and the actual annual ticket (around $20,000). Of course the majority of individuals attending are not covering these costs (or any other costs during the week), they are politicians, wealthy business men and other poweful people hosted by large corporates looking to curry favour.
The 48th Forum of Davos is running under the theme of “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”.
The people who regularly attend Davos are certainly good at talking about those who will never even hear about Davos, let alone attend themselves. But it is tricky to imagine how a group of people who don’t blink at a free ticket worth nearly $100,000 (taking sundries into account) are able to relate to the mass of humanity who have so little.
This is a common criticism of Davos. This year, particular heed should be taken. At the start of the week bank CEOs, Nobel prize wining economists and top investors expressed concern that markets were too complacent about the current state of play. Whilst many market signals suggest we are well-past the financial crisis, cracks are beginning to show. Indeed there are growing signs of “irrational exuberance” and bubbles in stock markets as explored in our podcast released yesterday.
These levels of complacency have not been seen since 2007, about the time that Roubini, Shiller, GoldCore (trading as Gold and Silver Investments Limited) and a few others were shouting for everyone to wake up. Indeed, we at GoldCore began warning about surging debt levels and the risk of a financial crisis in 2005.
The global elite should pay attention to this given the theme of the year. Since the financial crisis we have seen the number of billionaires more than double. We are also in the worst period of inequality since 1820, according to the OECD. This is disturbing, particularly for those at Davos flying the flag for globalisation, reduced protectionism and increased trade.
“We are seeing a paradox of high returns and high anxiety,” BlackRock chief exec Larry Fink wrote in his annual letter to the heads of the world’s biggest companies. “Since the financial crisis, those with capital have reaped enormous benefits. At the same time, many individuals across the world are facing a combination of low rates, low wage growth, and inadequate retirement systems.”
As Bank of England Chief economist Anthony Haldane reminds us, this is bad news for the Davos Few, there is rising evidence that extreme inequality harms, durably and significantly, the stability of the financial system and growth in the economy.”
Yet, where is the incentive to pay attention? Stock and bond markets are at record highs (as are property markets where most billionaires reside), corporate taxes in the United States and Britain are falling, and every major economy is performing well – superficially at least. Billionaires and leaders of the West have very little to complain about.