Good morning, delegates! Welcome to Davos. And welcome, also, to those following from afar.
The theme of the World Economic Forum this year is “Globalization 4.0.” Sessions during the week will also address “Activision 4.0,” “India 4.0,” and—wait for it—”Glocalization 4.0.” They say that good things come in fours, right? They don’t? Well, they do here.
Anyway, this daily email from Quartz is your guide to all the news and chatter from the forum. I’m Jason Karaian, Quartz’s finance editor and your Davos correspondent for the week. Also joining me are Quartz editor-in-chief Kevin J. Delaney, Quartz at Work editor Heather Landy, and economics reporter Eshe Nelson. Send us your news, tips, and Sting sightings (bonus points if he’s with Bono).
Today you can expect sunny skies but a high of just -4°C (25°F), so bundle up warm. And don’t leave the chalet without finetuning your status envy and preparing for plenty of FOMO.
What to watch for today
Trump of the tropics. Donald Trump isn’t at Davos this year, but he will be here in spirit, speaking Portuguese. Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who is often compared to Trump, will be the first head of state to take the main stage, at 3:30pm, continuing where the US president left off on the final day of last year’s forum. Bolsonaro espouses a populist vision that mixes pro-business policies (which go over well with the Davos crowd) with hardline social views (which make them squirm).
Earth Day comes early. Although a big survey of CEOs by PwC found that climate change is no longer among their top 10 threats, business leaders are about to get a healthy dose of Earth-focused events to remind them that the risk is real. First up, Prince William interviews David Attenborough in the Congress Hall at 2:15pm. The 92-year old British naturalist then returns later, at 5pm, for a panel on “Safeguarding Our Planet” with Al Gore and New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern. In the meantime, at 4pm in the SDG Tent, primatologist Jane Goodall will talk about forest preservation.
The gender agenda. The percentage of Davos delegates who are women may be just 22%, but we are 100% here for the programming at the Female Quotient’s FQ Lounge. The sessions on the first day include a panel at 5pm on achieving gender equality in the developing world (moderated by Quartz’s Eshe Nelson), followed by JPMorgan boss Jamie Dimon, along with his chief of staff Judy Miller and investment banking chair Jennifer Nason. Last year at the lounge, Dimon was unusually outspoken about politics and fielded questions about whether he was considering a 2020 presidential run.
And now for something completely different. At 4pm, the Solver Series will run an interactive discussion on open relationships, inspired by the Black Umbrella Society, a group created to examine the practice of “consensual non-monogamy.”
Clean-living Davos. If you’ve already hit the wine and cheese hard, get a fresh start at 8am with “Powerful Sound Activation” at the Hub Culture pavilion. Led by Ocean WhiteHawk, the session promises to “set the vibrational frequency for your day.”
Party planner. From 9pm at the Piano Bar, those with invites can sip top-rated wines and hear Anthony Scaramucci’s tales from his week (or so) inside the Trump administration and experience on Celebrity Big Brother. When he’s not doing reality TV, “The Mooch” is back at SkyBridge Capital, which is hosting the party along with 55Foundry and the Wine Forum. Forbes and FTI have late-night receptions at the Belvedere, Politico is up the Schatzalp, and there are no doubt more exclusive star-studded parties happening away from wherever you are.
Total information awareness
The official WEF site has a lively blog and hosts all of the public streams of sessions during the day. If you’re looking for more newsletters, Politico is plugged in, the Atlantic’s Steve Clemons is scribbling away, and Devex is covering the forum from a development angle.
For listings of what’s going on aside from just the official events, the DavosX app is fairly comprehensive (iPhone, Android) and the hipsters at Hub Culture have their own app, too (iPhone, Android). The “unDavos” group on Telegram, now more than 1,000 strong, is worth joining if you’re interested in what’s going on away from the Congress Centre—ask founder Mark Turrell nicely and he’ll add you.
Oh, and our Davos crew will be nerding up Quartz’s Instagram account all week.
What everyone is talking about
Everything is terrible. Or is it? Last year, Davos bigwigs were crowing about the “enormous ebullience” in the mountain air. How things have changed since then. About a week after the forum last year, markets went into a tailspin, then slowly recovered, and then totally biffed it (a technical term) at the end of the year. Now, the world leaders and CEOs who frequent Davos are fretting about risks to the global economy, risks to corporate profits, and risks to political stability. Trump, Theresa May, and Emmanuel Macron are staying home to deal with seemingly intractable national crises. The IMF kicked off the forum yesterday with a warning that the global economy was growing more slowly than expected. But if it pays to bet against the Davos consensus, then is the pervasive gloom at the forum this year a sign that the anxiety may be overdone?
Crypto—not dead yet. You might think that the crypto world’s coming out party at Davos last year, amid sky-high prices and grand claims about putting everything on the blockchain, would prove short-lived. Think again, because despite the “crypto winter”—bitcoin’s price is down 70% over the past year—there is more crypto- and blockchain-focused programming than ever. The scene revolves around the ConsenSys Ethereal Lounge, buttoned-up corporate types and policymakers frequent Blockchain Central, and there’s China-focused sessions at Davos Blockbase. You can also trade theories about Satoshi Nakamoto’s identity at the Blockchain Economic Forum, CV Labs’ pop-up, and any number of one-off sessions at lounges up and down the Promenade.
Reports, reports, reports. Eager to try and steer the conversation at the forum, companies bombard delegates with reports at the beginning of the week. Here’s a selection, distilled down into three words: IMF: Global economic slowdown | Edelman: Men trust more | UBS: Personalized sustainable finance | Oxfam: Rich get richer | PwC: CEOs are worried | Insead/Adecco/Tata: Switzerland always wins | Accenture: Trust pays dividends | FTI: Companies aren’t ready | Deloitte: They’re really not.
A once-hidden lounge is open to all white badges now: The WEF traditionally creates a temporary lounge space built over a swimming pool on a lower level of the Congress Centre and dedicates it to public figures and their entourages. But this year, it shifted the world leaders’ lounge closer to the main hall, so the swanky Garden Lounge is now open to all white-badged attendees. It’s airy and bright and features a robot that serves coffee.
Where in the world?
Last year, Japan’s Shinzo Abe was the only G7 leader to skip Davos. He’s here this year, but joined only by Germany’s Angela Merkel and Italy’s Giuseppe Conte. A fair few other big-name leaders gave Davos a miss this year, too.
Meet the mayor
Our unofficial award for mayor of Davos this week goes to Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s chairman and co-CEO. Klaus Schwab may run the World Economic Forum, but Benioff checks all the other boxes. He’s got an ideological platform that includes cleaning up the oceans and regulating his wayward peers in the tech industry. His company sits in some of the most prime real estate in town, with two prominent storefronts on the Promenade. Benioff hosts a major CEO lunch Thursday with Bono, Jane Goodall, and will.i.am as special guests. And he throws the buzziest party of the week, with Sting booked this time around. Benioff’s 2018 purchase of Time magazine, which he co-hosted a reception for last night (also with will.i.am), gives him extra clout relative to other contenders for title. The theme of Time’s special issue published this week? A Davos blowout with Schwab on the cover.
Seen and heard
“I would call the phase we are in innovative destruction, or perhaps destructive innovation. When you focus on the destructive part, it can make you pessimistic. What we try to do is see the innovative part.”—Klaus Schwab
“Davos is a family reunion for the people who broke the world.”—Anand Giridharadas (and there’s plenty more where that came from)
The sleek look of Ukraine House, and the big flag flying outside of it, is already paying off from a branding perspective—more than a few people have described event locations to us as “near Ukraine.”
“The British pound, the US dollar… they’re all based on the same bull**** as bitcoin.”—an argument in favor of cryptocurrencies, we think.
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
Diplomats and academics called on China to release two Canadians. More than 100 scholars and former envoys urged Chinese leader Xi Jinping to release Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, warning of the chilling effect of Beijing’s actions on relations with the world. The two were detained after Canada last month arrested telecom giant Huawei’s CFO Meng Wangzhou at the request of the US, which has confirmed it will submit an extradition request for her, the Globe and Mail reported (paywall).
Two ships caught on fire in the Black Sea, killing 14. The blaze erupted while fuel was being pumped from one tanker to another, forcing the Turkish and Indian crew members to jump overboard. The cargo vessels, which were anchored off the Crimean peninsula, appeared last year on a US treasury list warning of the sanctions risk for shipping petroleum to Syria.
A Japanese court rejected Carlos Ghosn’s bail request, again. The ousted Nissan chairman, who is facing charges of financial misconduct for misreporting his income, had offered to surrender his passport and pay for his own monitoring, but a Tokyo court denied his application. Ghosn has been in custody since his November arrest.
Matters of debate
Join the conversation with the new Quartz app!
Criticizing Oxfam’s poverty methodology misses the point. Arguing over how the advocacy group calculates wealth distracts from the issues it raises about income inequality.
Innovation can’t happen without empathy. Creative solutions require an understanding of people’s needs, conditions, and challenges.
Sheryl Sandberg’s apology isn’t enough. The Facebook COO keeps repeating platitudes instead of making tough decisions.
Urban frogs are more attractive. They adapt to the noise of city life with more complex mating calls, and females apparently like it.
Canadian stocks are high on marijuana. The S&P/TSX Composite Index has had its best start to a year since 1980, mainly on the strength of cannabis stocks.
A hitman’s GPS watch connected him to a mob murder. Mark “Iceman” Fellows was found guilty of an unsolved killing after his Garmin watch showed him planning an escape route.
Our best wishes for an inspiring day at the forum. Please send any news, tips, soothing sounds, and secret salons to me, Jason Karaian. Keep up with the news while you’re on the go this week with the Quartz app for iPhone and Android.