Davos 2018: Between conflicting winds

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Text: Žikica Milošević

This year’s World Economic Forum (WEF), held in Swiss Davos (usually shortened to merely „Davos“), was a place for all the elite businessmen and politicians, as usual. But this year’s edition was particularly interesting because of the conflicting winds blowing from different parts of the world.

AMERICA FIRST, AMERICA BEST

Some people doubted that the American President Donald Trump will even appear there, since he is a staunch opponent to the free trade agreements, and the proponent of „deals“, „America First“ (everybody else later, obviously), protectionism (remember the taxes on solar panels, to stoip investing in clean technologies and to spur the oil industry), etc. His arrival, on his first presidential anniversary, was even greeted by protesters. But, Trump appeared, and only a person who does not understand his psychology would have tought otherwise. He is a superstar, a reality show star, he loves bragging and fighting in public. So, we have witnessed Trump bragging around with good results of the American economy, which, contrary to all his enemies’ predictions, are really excellent. Of course, some of it can be attributed to his predecessor, Obama, but he proudly said: „We came to say how America is great again, the economy is blooming, thanks to the regulations cut, as we expected, the unemployment is record low, but we did not expect companies to grant bonuses to their employees“. The Americans also stated that China was the greatest rival and accused them for the sophisticated protectionist behaviour disguised as liveral globalisation (stated by US Economy Minister Wilbur Ross). But in fact, America was pushing globalisation up to the moment when it did not serve it any longer, now China is the main proponent, and America is slowly closing. But there is another curious fact, and it might show that Trump (at least in economy) knows few things right: dollar is depreciating, as opposed to the previous efforts to make it strong, and it makes American economy more competitive in the export markets, and the tourism is being boosted. It is a clear strategy, not a coincidence, and it seems like an answer to the EU’s QE policy.

EUROPE AT THE CROSSROADS

One of the most anticipated guests was Emmanuel Macron, a new young superstar of European politics, and a great hope for new European unionism. He is, however, not in favour of the unified Europe, but in favour of several gear Europe, in which the richest will lead the gamne and the rest will… well, somehow organise. If we understand Europe as a train, it is impossible, but Macron sees it as a caravan, apparently. He also praised Chinese investments in Europe earlier, righfully understanding that if Europe refrains from „One Built, One Road“ it will soon become the „Second League“, and Asia will win. We know how Chinese Empire thought it was „way too advanced“ and self-sufficient in the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and completely failed. So, young Macron is clever. Just as his statement that EU will have to seek other partnerships, apart from the USA. Time to realign, guys. As for the UK, their plans are now to become something between Canada and Norway: we are close to Europe, have the trade agreement, just we are not exactly part of it. Good luck, Theresa. It will take a lot of mastery to make it all right.

THE SIGNIFICANT OTHERS

As for China, it is clear that Xi’s doctrine has won, and the Far Eastern economy will be soon the leader of the world, since even China understood the urge of green economy, becoming the leader in this field. Russia is pushing towards expanding its EAU agenda, signing association deals with many, and free trade deals with others. As for the Western Balkans, we are burdened by rivalry and old hatred, but as PM Brnabić said, we are digitalising fast, and as Presidents Vučić and Rama stated, the economy has a priority, although the Free Trade Union is far-fetched, especially because of Montenegro. But, if we are poor, we will hate each other even more. Nationalism is for the poor, as Rambo Amadeus stated wisely. The rich are more relaxed. Let’s be rich(er).

SOROS AGAINST INTERNET?

And one shocking (is it really?) statement came from the American billionaire and activist George Soros, who, surprisingly, shouted against, guess what: the Internet and its freedoms, which is unusual for a person who supposedly dedicated his life to open society and open flow of information. He said: “Social media companies deceive their users by manipulating their attention and directing it towards their own commercial purposes. They deliberately engineer addiction to the services they provide. This can be very harmful, particularly for adolescents. There is a similarity between internet platforms and gambling companies. Casinos have developed techniques to hook gamblers to the point where they gamble away all their money, even money they don’t have.” And there are dork clouds over his empire everywhere. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz informed Soros that his Open Society foundation was given 28 days to close. Otherwise, the fund will face legal claims for “attempts to undermine the democracy of the nation.”

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