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23.01.16 11:45 Good times, bad times - take your pick

WEF Davos has seen both sun and clouds this year


It’s the final morning in Davos and the electric buggy drivers who take journos to the Congress Centre are demob happy, doing handbrake turns in the snow! The crystal balls are dusted down and will come out today for the traditional WEF forecasts on where things will go with the economy and the world in general this year.

That’s a tough ask – volatility and uncertainty have been the watchwords at this year’s annual meeting. WEF faced a difficult period of navel gazing after the 2008 financial crisis and Klaus Schwab was forced to admit that eyes had been taken off the ball.

Well, WEF has made up for its complacency in buckets this year, churning out one report after the other, highlighting some eye-watering risks to society in these changing times. Take five million lost jobs in the next four years for starters.

The last few days have heard even more alarming predictions, such as drone helicopters patrolling city streets with the intelligence to identify and kill specific groups of people.

But in the midst of all this gloom, some delegates yesterday attempted to provide some rays of sunlight. “Some people wonder whether we are now trapped in an inevitable decline,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry. “We are not trapped in a nightmare we cannot wake up from.”

He used his speech to remind delegates that a nuclear deal with Iran had recently been agreed and last year saw the successful Paris climate summit and the resumption of US relations with Cuba. Kerry’s address was rather more bullish last year.

On the Swiss front, President Johann Schneider-Ammann also had comforting words during an Open Forum debate entitled: Is The Swiss Model Under Threat? Whilst acknowledging the Switzerland faces some weighty issues, including a strong franc, recent Alstom job cuts and icy EU relations, Schneider-Ammann said he was “optimistic” about the coming year, particularly for the economy given the low rate of unemployment.

“You would not expect me to come to Davos to tell you that we are unable to meet the different challenges that lie ahead,” he said. "I have started the year on an optimistic footing, but not only because I am President."

In the meantime, a lively debate has been bubbling, both in the congress centre and on the fringes, about the fate of the crypto-currency bitcoin

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