Does Davos Actually Do Anything?
Every year since 1971, political, academic and corporate leaders from across the globe gather at Swiss ski resort Davos, for a four-day conference to chew over the critical issues facing the year ahead. This year more than 2,500 leaders attended the Forum. Although the forum boasts delegates from more than 100 countries, the largest number are from western Europe, followed by the United States. The theme this year is “The New Global Context,” defined as 10 global challenges affecting the world today: environment and resource scarcity; employment skills and human capital; gender parity; long-term investing, infrastructure and development; food security and agriculture; international trade and investment; the future of the Internet; global crime and corruption; social inclusion; and the economy.
The Davos gathering of the super-rich ended, as expected, without any substantial results. The conference turned out to be a blend of blames and accusations and in the end, everyone agreed to disagree; like almost all the previous editions of these conferences had concluded. The rich again continued repeating their empty, old mantras that overall economy of the world has improved, and that poor nations should look at the brighter side of the picture. On the other hand, both inside and outside the conference, thousands of angry people were getting almost violent on the frightening situation of unemployment, inflation and, of course, the widening rich-poor gap.
Notwithstanding the above facts, this conference was badly needed amidst the continued failure of the world economy to recover from the recession of 2008 which stems back to the decisions made after the fateful 9/11 incidents. The decision of opening wars one after the other by the world’s largest economies adversely affected not only their own economies but also left those of the almost all other countries across the globe in the lurch. The world beamed on the prime economies to change the contemporary state of affairs but, unfortunately, they were not ready to give up the privileges that they had taken for granted. This mindset has killed all chances of changing the present scenario.
During the conference, most economists were of the view that major economies of the world should shoulder more responsibility in steering the world out of this disaster because it is their selfish moves and decisions that has plagued the world with the present-day miseries. On the other hand, some experts kept on defending the international powers. A video broadcast by the CNN unveiled that during the last decade, the world economy has expanded to almost double in size; overall poverty has decreased and there are mixed views around the world about the opinion of people about this progress. The statistics shown in this regard may be true. But, ground realities are equally painful. According to Forbes magazine, the number of billionaires around the world is increasing rapidly but living standards of majority of people have sharply declined. In the same way, the earnings of lower and middle classes have substantially decreased when compensated with the increasing inflation.
In past, the conditions of most African and Asian populations were really miserable and majority of them lived under unimaginably abject poverty. But they did get recognition as most people living in America, Europe and a number of Asian countries enjoyed especially in terms of good income to support their expenses and lead comfortable lives. The situation, however, has changed now. We witness intermittent protests in developed nations of Europe like Greece, Spain, Italy and even France, and masses are very much distressed in the United States too. The bailout packages for Greece and a couple of other European countries were meant to salvage these economies from a complete collapse. An average American today finds it quite hard to make both ends meet. Most Americans groan the shrinking public facilities. In the same way, a number of European countries have also cut down many public facilities their citizens once enjoyed. In such conditions, it remains almost impossible for the world economies to remain silent when alarming bells are ringing near their ears.
Data shows that the world economy, though, has expanded considerably in last ten years, yet it’s an undeniable fact that after 9/11, the whole world economy has turned into a war-time economy and the boom it experienced is mostly artificial. The war-time economy is useful only after a country becomes absolutely destroyed due to a war and immediate spending are made to invent artificial economic activities and expansion. However, this strategy cannot be used in the long run. The war expenditure of trillions of dollars in Afghanistan, Iraq and some other places could have revolutionized the economies of these countries only but such a strategy can be even dangerous in certain situations when it is employed as a strategy in normal conditions. The artificial economic boom of post – 9/11 era brought an economic disaster in 2008 but no lessons were learnt and at present, a number of countries are feeling the pangs of this meaningless economic strategy.
In these years, it is becoming absolutely evident to all that world economies are now controlled by large corporations and they are so powerful and mighty that no government dares to oppose their plans. In almost all countries of the world, they hold sway and are able to manipulate legislation to their own benefit. In the post-9/11 world, these corporations have made billions of dollars and their executives and shareholders have brought into their hands whooping sums of money. For these heartless corporations, only objective is to make money; and this is possible only through violent expansion. Though it has become vividly clear that some corporations were actually responsible for the 2008 recession, yet no action has been taken against those, and they are still free to play with the fate of billions of people in all corners of the world. It is so unfortunate and ironic that these corporations don’t have any regard for business ethics that may restrict their voracity for more and more profits.
It’s also a heart-wrenching fact that global powers, especially the US, the UK and their allies that make almost two-third of the world economy, have spent most of their energies on war rather than development projects. And if there were development projects in the war-torn countries, those were to compensate for the disaster they themselves have caused. The world is smouldering with the flames of war, the trend of war-spending is likely to continue for many decades to come.
Keeping in mind these facts, such conferences and meetings would be meaningless unless the influence of international corporations are restricted and world powers vow to stop using war as a tool to boost up their economies.