The 2022 World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, ended without clear solutions to some global issues.
Nearly 2,500 politicians, business leaders and members of the media gathered in a Swiss resort town hoping to address a wide range of issues, including soaring inflation, climate change and the war in Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin’s aggression and subsequent economic fallout remained a major focus during the World Economic Forum, especially during the headline speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Speaking via video link, he said his country would not give up any land to end the war in Russia.
When asked by reporters about the conflict, Zelensky said the war was not against a specific individual or entity, but “for our land, our freedom, our independence and our future.”
International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva has warned elites that growing food shortages are “dire” and that the global economy is facing its biggest threat since World War II. The International Monetary Fund expects the economy to grow by 3.6% in 2022, easing global recession fears slightly. However, Georgieva stressed that soaring food prices will continue to make this a “difficult year”.
The pressure on global energy markets has sparked a heated debate among leaders in Davos as the national average price of natural gas fluctuates around $4.60 a gallon, according to the AAA. S&P Global Vice Chairman Daniel Yergin said energy markets were “tight before the Ukraine crisis” and are now “disturbed by the direction of flows.”
Yergin warned that gas prices could be higher as China reopens after the COVID shutdown. He believes that a strong recovery in China’s economy will further increase global oil demand and add more pressure to the troubled market.
“For years, tensions over trade, technological standards and security have been rising, undermining growth and trust in the current global economic system,” said the managing director of the IMF.
Related to energy is the environment, and President Joe Biden’s climate czar, John Kerry, expressed optimism after meeting his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum. The first face-to-face talks between the two parties in months are part of an ongoing White House push to slash greenhouse gas emissions.
The semiconductor industry has come under fire for supply chain bottlenecks, and it’s also widely felt in automotive and computer manufacturing. In the U.S., total vehicle sales fell 21% year over year, according to new research from Deutsche Bank.
Intel CEO Patrick Gelsinger, speaking at the annual meeting, said the shortage will continue through 2024, but his company plans to build 10 new factories over the next five years to ease demand for equipment.
Participants leaving Switzerland felt a sense of urgency from war, food shortages and economic uncertainty that showed no immediate sign of abating. For the first time in its more than 50-year history, the World Economic Forum has asked policymakers to reassess the idea of globalization.