“Merkron” speaks, Enlightenment lessons, and news from elsewhere

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Good morning, Davos delegates and devotees!

It’s day deux / zwei / due / dus, depending on which Swiss canton you’re from.

This daily email from Quartz is your guide to all the news and chatter from the World Economic Forum 2018: Davos on Ice!

The forecast calls for “cloudless” skies and a positively balmy high of 6°C (43°F). Don’t forget the sunscreen and shades.

What to watch for today

Hello, Europe! After a two-year absence from Davos, German chancellor Angela Merkel is likely to stick to her familiar script of openness and European integration. French president Emmanuel Macron follows, probably delivering a similar message as Merkel, but with French characteristics. King Felipe VI of Spain and Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni round out a Euro-centric day of programming.

What’s the big idea? For something completely different, Yuval Harari, author of Sapiens and Homo Deus, will address the not-inconsequential question of “Will the future be human?” while Steven Pinker will look all the way back to the Enlightenment to “re-inspire a world increasingly driven by dark headlines and ideological divides.”

Air Force One, incoming. Speaking of divides, the first representatives of the Trump administration—Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin and Department of Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen—make appearances, looking to reconcile “America First” with the multilateral-minded Davos crowd.

Away from the West. The mastermind of China’s economic policy, Liu He, will explain the “drawbacks of capitalism-led” systems. Nobel peace prize-winning Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos will discuss inequality with the heads of the World Bank and Oxfam. Hailemariam Desalegn, the prime minister of Ethiopia, will talk environmental risks with Al Gore. Finally, Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa will appear on the two-month anniversary of being sworn in as president.

Today in crypto. The Ethereal Lounge hosts a panel and reception about women working in blockchain; Blockchain Central will debate regulation with representatives from Estonia, Gibraltar, Greece, and Haiti; and CryptoHQ will throw a party with mezcal cocktails and sushi prepared by a former Olympic runner-turned-chef. Yep.

Party planner. Japan Night, Indonesia Night, Mexico night, oh my! There’s also McKinsey’s typically heaving party at the Belvedere or a gondola ride up the Schatzalp with Bill Gates, Bono, and Malala for the Global Goals reception. The Russian delegation says “the ice will be hot” at a gala hockey match featuring several former pros it has brought to Davos.

Who won day one?

The first day’s most memorable moments were all about women. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau were among the many men pledging to back women—maybe that’s why 40% of attendees at the “When Women Thrive” breakfast were men, compared with 10% four years ago. A panel on sexual harassment got real, fast, with women telling raw stories about the challenges they face. To cap off the day, the WEF’s seven female co-chairs took the main stage for “not your typical ‘manel,’” joked International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde.

Lagarde quoted Leonard Cohen: “There is a crack in everything and that is how the light gets in.” She then asked each panelist to identify the cracks they see, to an engrossed audience.

More highlights from yesterday

Modi’s liberal turn. The Indian prime minister spoke of “global solidarity” and the “selfishness” of refusing to act on climate change, while touting India’s economic reforms. The picture Modi painted, however, doesn’t reflect the discomfort at home, Quartz India reports, where Indians are still waiting to experience the benefits of reforms.

Time to regulate tech. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi both said the tech industry was due for stricter regulation. Khosrowshahi said CEOs should always know what’s happening inside their companies, and be kicked out if they don’t. “I’d ask regulators be harsh with accountability,” he said.

No one listens to us. PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi and EY’s Mark Weinberger took analysts, investors, and the media to task for failing to appreciate long-term thinking, or intangible assets like skilled people. “I have scars on my back from the first six years of my CEO-ship and kudos for the last six years,” Nooyi said, specifically about her once-pilloried push to sell healthier products.

“Whoever controls the data, controls the world.” Everyone from Modi to bankers to law enforcement officials at cyber-security events kept repeating that phrase.

Chart interlude

Lowest of the low. In the badge hierarchy of Davos, government leaders clearly rank on top. But the next time some smug head of state cuts ahead in the coffee line, pull up this email and show them the hierarchy from Edelman’s latest survey on trust. According to a global survey of more than 30,000 people, government officials are now less credible than journalists, for goodness’ sakes.

Image for article titled “Merkron” speaks, Enlightenment lessons, and news from elsewhere

Seen and heard

Leadership in action: “I don’t care what you do, but you have to do it right!”—an exec barking down the phone as he strides through the Congress Center

At a packed dinner held by the Global Business Blockchain Council, a fair few hands went up when the moderator asked how many people worked in crypto five years ago. That could make it the richest room at Davos this week; bitcoin is up more than 200,000% since then.

“Optimism is one of the only free stimulants left in the world, so I’m going to grab optimism and stick with it.”—Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP

“When everyone’s complacent that’s when you have to be nervous.”— David Rubenstein, co-founder of the Carlyle Group

As some readers have pointed out, we mistakenly left India off of our map of world leaders in yesterday’s email. We could say that it was an intentional ploy to see how many of you read this newsletter carefully, but… nope. Here’s a corrected version.

Enjoying this email?

This is a special edition of the Quartz Daily Brief produced for attendees and others interested in the World Economic Forum in Davos. If you were forwarded this newsletter by a colleague, head of state, or Klaus Schwab himself, you can get your own copy for free by clicking here. And follow all of Quartz’s coverage from the forum during the week here.

News from around the world

The UK will release labor market data. The last two monthly reports showed dips in the number of people working, highlighting the growing problem of skills shortages (paywall). The number of firms citing the skills gap as a factor likely to limit output over the next three months reached the highest level in 40-plus years, an industry body reported yesterday.

Shinzo Abe said he will attend the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Earlier reports suggested the Japanese prime minister would skip the games due to a dispute over Korean “comfort women” forced to work in wartime military brothels. The move risks angering his conservative base. Abe made a splash at the Summer Olympics in Brazil as Nintendo’s Mario.

A US senator announced she’s pregnant. If all goes well, Tammy Duckworth will become the first sitting senator in history to give birth later this year. The Illinois Democrat, a double amputee, was a helicopter pilot in the Iraq War and has slammed Trump for being a “five-deferment draft dodger.”

Matters of debate

Life hacks are part of a 200-year-old movement to destroy your humanity. The goal is to make work the center of our lives.

Beauty brands want diverse faces, not diverse voices. Spokesmodels are reduced to pretty faces when they’re asked to take the fall for their political beliefs.

Trump’s solar-panel policy is a boon to China. Increasing import tariffs will do little to weaken Beijing’s manufacturing advantage, and might even strengthen it.

Surprising discoveries

“Good morning!” messages are choking India’s smartphones. The mass greetings are eating up memory on low-end Android devices (paywall).

Hawaii’s governor couldn’t tweet about a false missile alert because he didn’t know his Twitter password. David Ige knew within two minutes the warning was a mistake, but his followers weren’t so lucky.

Wolves have returned to Belgium. Naya, a female equipped with a tracker, is the first wild wolf to visit in more than 100 years.

Our best wishes for an inspiring day at the forum. Please send any news, tips, blockchain-based cocktails, and cartographic bloopers to me, Jason Karaian. The best way to keep up with news while you’re on the go this week is the Quartz app for iPhone and Android.