Upwards of 2,500 business and political leaders, journalists, and economists convened in Davos, Switzerland, for the 48th annual World Economic Forum two weeks ago. Over the span of four days, there were over 400 sessions and panels. The general attitude was one of positivity, as 2017 was considered the best economic year globally since 2007, and all of the world’s major economies are experiencing considerable growth. Even the recent economic slowdown in China is gradually decreasing.
Among the highlights of the conference was an address from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who touted the recent economic boom in India, which at 7.4% growth annually is the world’s fastest-growing economy. The Indian GDP has increased sixfold since 1997.
Perhaps the most significant event was the much-anticipated closing address from U.S. President Donald Trump. Under his leadership in the past year, the U.S. economy has experienced solid growth, especially the stock market, whose value increased by $4 trillion. The unemployment rate has also fallen to 4.1 percent. Additionally, the recent tax reforms in the U.S. will boost U.S. growth and benefit our trading partners and investors. As a result, the International Monetary Fund raised world economic growth projections to 3.9 percent, up 0.2 percent from 2017. In his speech, he echoed this sentiment, saying that “there has never been a better time to invest in the United States”.
In the past year, Trump has been criticized by the left and internationally for his “America-first” attitude. He defended his views, stating that “America First does not mean America alone”. Explaining his reasoning, he said that “when the United States grows, so does the world. American prosperity has created countless jobs around the globe and the drive for excellence, creativity, and innovation in the United States has led to important discoveries that help people everywhere live more prosperous and healthier lives”. Trump continued, saying “I will always put America first, just like the leaders of other countries should put their countries first”.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the formation of the new Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, a reformed version of the original TPP, which Trump pulled out of one year ago because it was disadvantageous for the U.S. He also said that he plans to talk to President Trump about NAFTA, saying that it should be a “win-win-win situation” for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
Other storylines of the Forum included the increased number of female leaders in attendance, as well as the increased focus on Artificial intelligence. Google CEO Sundar Pichai claimed that AI is more important to humanity than fire or electricity, while Alibaba founder Jack Ma was less controversial, saying that “computers are smarter than humans but not wiser”.
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, in general, was also a hot topic this year. The majority of business leaders criticized bitcoin as a volatile asset with high bubble potential. But also in attendance at Davos were leaders in cryptocurrency, who disagreed with this sentiment and were highly optimistic of cryptocurrency.
The conference will take place next year at the same location on January 22-25, 2019.