Davos becomes a liability in the populist era
We would not say that we've entered a "populist era" yet. "Populism" has been gradually growing as a reaction to the "Davos Man" agenda for years and years. That is, resisitance to the big government, big business, big finance, pro-EU, pro UN, generally anti-American and anti-West, highly centralized agenda has grown steadily. But have we entered a "populist" era?
The effort to counter the people, mostly middle class people, is still very significant. Brexit has been fought by the European Union, the big banks, George Soros and company at every step. Trump (who for his many faults IS an agent of change) likewise has been fought by the establishment. There are plenty of other instances where the crony system has battled the people over the last 5 years or so, with no completely clear winner.
However the Yellow Vests have made much noise of late and no doubt the helicopters and drones hovering over Davos will be searching for trouble makers. So there is movement in the establishment versus anti-establishment equation.
What do Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron, Narendra Modi and Theresa May have in common? Besides leading the United States, Canada, France, India and United Kingdom, not much – except that all of them are skipping the World Economic Forum in Davos this week. Each of the leaders came to the Swiss Alps last year to deliver their takes on globalisation - or at least flog their nations as the world’s optimal destinations for capital.
Since then, it seems, Davos has become a political liability. Though long-standing heads of state like Japan’s Shinzo Abe and Germany’s Angela Merkel will be present, many politicians propelled more recently to power – especially since Britain’s 2016 referendum on leaving the European Union and the U.S. election later that year - are bogged down at home. Unfair as it may be, the worry is that domestic woes will only be exacerbated by rubbing shoulders with elites in the Alps under the auspices of solving big problems.
What is lost, or perhaps not lost on "Davos Man" is that many of the "big problems" he seeks to solve are of his own making. As long as this is denied he will meet resistance from the people. Indeed he will meet more than resistance.