Despite the rise of new threats, business confidence in growth is at its highest, according to the PwC survey released Monday.
Here is the unique ritual where heads of state, bosses of multinationals, NGOs, brains of science and technology, Hollywood stars and even Bollywood brave the blizzard and converge to a cure center for tuberculosis. A record number of participants are expected for these 48e World Economic Forum Annual Meetings in Davos, January 23-26, "Building a Common Future in a Fractured World".
Symbol of one of these fractures, seven women co-chair, for the first time, the 2018 opus, including two French women, Christine Lagarde, Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund, and Isabelle Kocher, Engie. "Women are at the bottom of the global economy. And even at the top, nine out of ten billionaires are men, denounces Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, coming to Switzerland to alert the world's elites to rising inequality.
Ten years after the financial crisis that has shaken global capitalism, however, the bottom of the economic air has warmed and Mme Lagarde welcomed Monday in Davos, the "Strengthening growth". " That's very good news ", did she say.
In 2018, it's politics that goes wrong. Global governance has lost its bearings in a world in the process of restructuring, where multilateralism is challenged by the president of a country, the United States, which has yet been the main promoter, where the values of liberal democracies are declining , and where the tech giants seem uncontrolled.
Perhaps sign of an awareness of the need for exchanges, confrontations of positions and debates in this troubled period, no less than 70 heads of state and government make the trip to Graubünden.
Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron are eagerly awaited
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was due to open Tuesday the series of public interventions scheduled for the week in plenary. This is the first time that Mr. Modi has come to Davos, where he should not only showcase the "Invest India" campaign but also expose his country's vision on a geostrategic chessboard where the other Asian giant, China, advance more and more pieces. In 2017, President Xi Jinping (absent this year) took advantage of the American void to be a champion of free trade and multilateralism.
Two other "new" are eagerly awaited: US President Donald Trump and his French counterpart. Emmanuel Macron, whose innovative image continues to fascinate international circles, will be able to relaunch his slogan "Europe is back" : he will speak on Wednesday, January 24, which will be a very European day, since Mr Macron will have been preceded on the scene by King Felipe of Spain, the Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and, especially, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel who, having raised a big obstacle in the way of his coalition, decided at the last minute to come also to Davos.
The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker will speak on Thursday, as Theresa May, the British Prime Minister. "The Europe team" wants both to signal its return, with the improvement of growth in the euro zone, and to promote a "narrative" different from " America First » from Mr. Trump.
Because it is the performance of the American president that will provide the highlight of the week, Friday. No one knows yet whether he intends to seduce or, on the contrary, to lecture or even insult the representatives of the globalized elites who will listen to him.
Some need others
It would be wrong, however, to break their optimism. According to PwC's traditional boss morale survey released Monday, 57 percent of 1,300 business executives surveyed in 85 countries believe economic growth will improve in the next 12 months: they were only 29 percent a year ago. This is the highest level of confidence since PwC launched this barometer in 2012.
Regarding the growth prospects of their own company, the bosses are generally more cautious (42%), except the Americans, whose optimism has skyrocketed in one year: in 2017, just after taking office of Mr. Trump, 39% of them declared themselves "Very confident"but after the implementation of its pro-business policy, they are now 53% to see the future in pink.
The improvement in economic conditions does not hide, however, the rise of new threats. Spectacularly, terrorism, geopolitical uncertainties and cybersecurity have become in 2018 the risks that most concern leaders - behind the immutable hyper-regulation. "The biggest concerns of business leaders are related to geopolitical and societal changes rather than the dynamics of their own markets"says Bernard Gainnier, president of PwC for France and French-speaking Africa. The diligence of the political and economic leaders in Davos shows how much one needs the others - and vice versa.