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The super-rich head to Davos for the 2018 World Economic Forum

by | 22 Jan, 2018

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Is the World Economic Forum just a glorified networking event for the super-rich?

The worlds rich and powerful will begin to descend upon the serene mountain retreat of Davos in Switzerland from today for the annual World Economic Forum.

The topic of this year’s event is “Creating a shared future in a fractured world”. The forum calls for more action from leaders to work together and create a shared narrative that will improve the state of the planet, amidst major political, economic and social fractures across the world.

Among the high-profile guests this year is President Trump who will be the first American leader to speak at the event since Bill Clinton in 2000, as well as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the first Indian head of state to represent the country at the WEF for 20 years. The event will also host CEO’s and business leaders across a broad range of industries as well as noted economists, celebrities, journalists and more.

Despite the wealth generated through his real-estate empire, Trump doesn’t even make the top 5 in terms of the list of the wealthiest speakers this year, which include Microsoft founder Bill Gates, with a net worth of $72.7bn, Alibaba founder and chief executive Jack Ma, with a net worth of $47bn, and US investor and hedge fund manager Ray Dalio, with a net worth of $14.1bn.

Oliver Williams, the head of research at Wealth intelligence service firm WealthInsight said: “With an average wealth of almost half a billion per speaker, this year’s World Economic Forum has one of its most wealthy line-ups.” He added, “Speakers discussing this year’s theme, Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World, are bound to address issues of wealth inequality. But coming from such a wealthy panel, many will struggle to take them seriously.”

The WEF is frequently lambasted for being merely a networking event for the super-rich, who talk at great length about inequality but fall short of enacting real change.

Larry Elliot, economics editor for The Guardian wrote today: “Booming stock markets mean the billionaires who will spend the next few days emoting about inequality are considerably richer than they were a year ago.” He added, “Davos is like a giant gated community where the 1 per cent can mingle with each other and pretend that they care about the other 99 per cent.”

Indeed, reports in the past have indicated that the real ‘action’ at Davos happens behind closed doors and away from the staged, set-piece events, where executives and others set up court in hotel rooms and chalets to discuss major business deals. The WEF is also well known for the lavish parties thrown by its guests after-hours, where the global elite can party the night away while at a safe distance from the media circus.

Published to coincide with the opening of the WEF in Davos, Oxfam released a new report today which showed just 42 people own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50 per cent worldwide. The charity called for a rethink of legal and business models that prioritise shareholder returns over broader social impact, noting how “excessive corporate influence on policy-making, erosion of workers’ rights and relentless drive to minimise costs in order to maximise returns to investors all contribute to a widening gap between the super-rich and the rest of society.”

Regardless of the criticism levelled at the event, WEF founder Klaus Schwab reaffirmed his view of the annual gathering as a positive force for change, based around enacting much needed social reforms across the globe. Speaking to the associated press, Schwab said: “What we need is ‘qualitative easing’ to make the lives of those who have been left out better, and to include them into the economic development process.”

Related: What are the biggest risks for investors in 2018? Invstr CEO Kerim Derhalli gives his take

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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © INVSTR LTD. 2018

Risk Disclosure:
Invstr is a technology platform, not a registered broker-dealer or investment adviser. Invstr does not offer its own recommendations of any security or provide its own research to any user regarding any security transaction or order.
Please note, investing involves risk and investments may lose value. Past performance does not guarantee future results.
Brokerage services are provided by the following:
US-traded securities, including fractional trading, are provided to Invstr users by DriveWealth LLC, a regulated member of FINRA/SIPC. DriveWealth may not establish investment accounts to residents of certain jurisdictions. For more information, including disclaimers, risk and transaction fees click here.
India account traded securities are provided by SIC Stocks & Services PVT Ltd. SIC does not make any personal recommendations to buy, sell or otherwise deal in investments. Investors make their own investment decisions. The services and securities provided by SIC may not be suitable for all customers and, if you have any doubts, you should seek advice from an independent financial adviser. For more information and disclaimers, click here.

 

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