Recent global economic history as told through Davos themes

Where they store the slogans.
Where they store the slogans.
Image: Reuters/Vincent Kessler
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The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) begins on Tuesday, Jan. 23, in Davos, Switzerland. Each year since 2003, the organization has picked a theme for its event that strings together vaguely defined PowerPoint-friendly words to capture the economic mood and collective psyche of WEF’s elite membership—from 2006’s optimistic “The Creative Imperative” to 2010’s chastened “Rethink, Redesign Rebuild,” following the global economic crisis. (Experts are still trying to decipher 2013’s “Resilient Dynamism.”)

After the UK voted to leave the European Union and the US elected Donald Trump as president, Davos went with the hopefully contrarian theme, “Responsive and Responsible Leadership.” This year, the meeting has been given a slightly more realistic update: “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.” By the way, Trump will be there.

If you squint hard enough, the Davos themes form a concise summary of recent global history, as viewed through a certain rarified lens. Here are all of them in chronological order:

  • 2003: Building Trust
  • 2004: Partnering for Security and Prosperity
  • 2005: Taking Responsibility for Tough Choices
  • 2006: The Creative Imperative
  • 2007: The Shifting Power Equation
  • 2008: The Power of Collaborative Innovation
  • 2009: Shaping the Post-Crisis World
  • 2010: Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild
  • 2011: Shared Norms for the New Reality
  • 2012: The Great Transformation
  • 2013: Resilient Dynamism
  • 2014: The Reshaping of the World
  • 2015: The New Global Context
  • 2016: Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution
  • 2017: Responsive and Responsible Leadership
  • 2018: Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World

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