400 sessions, 4 days and over 2500 leaders and thinkers, from Shakira to Theresa May; as Davos 2017 comes to a close, the questions facing world leaders continue to grow. Brexit and Trump have paved the way for an economic policy that follows an anti-globalisation rhetoric however the World Economic Forum in Davos aimed to pour cold water onto this heated issue. Here Ben Pringle, former chair of Post Crash Economics, rounds up a week of blogs inspired by WEF 2017.
Over this blog series I have brought together people from academia, industry and policy to talk about economic issues that are facing the world; the reasons for them and the possible solutions. Over the course of the week we have seen blogs from experts such as the former European Commissioner Laszlo Andor, financial writer Frances Coppola, macroeconomists such as Jo Michell and Paul Middleditch, and former Government Economic Service head Andy Ross.
Before the EU Referendum, Michael Gove proclaimed that the British people are ‘sick of experts’. However, I hope the insight from the contributors to this series have proved Gove wrong and shows why wrongly prescribed medicine could be detrimental to society.
Davos has seen China continue its ascendancy towards being the global power that seeks to maintain an open global economy. In this new leadership role (which has temporarily or possibly more permanently been vacated by the United States) China has tried to take charge of the debate while the US, now under Trump, looks towards more protectionist policies.
Votes for Trump and for Brexit were seen as a vote against globalisation . As a process, globalisation has been shown to be good for economies however its benefits have not been shared evenly. World leaders at Davos have come together to counter this with a message of collaboration trumping a more inward approach. In Theresa May’s speech on Thursday she spoke of a global Britain that remains open for business, despite the vote to leave the EU, however, fellow leaders remain unconvinced. This, and the vacation of leadership left by the US, feeds into a growing uncertainty.
‘Many of the problems troubling the world are not caused by economic globalisation’ Xi Jinping
To complete the uncertainty problem you also have the European Union which has been further hit by the UK voting to leave. In order for the EU to survive nations must come together and realise the economic plan since the financial crash, and the budgetary problems of southern EU states, have simply failed. Economic woes help to breed a political environment that at times may not be the one leader’s expected or wanted. In his recent blog, Andy Ross pointed to the ways in which economics have to collaborate with disciplines other than economics to understand the world that economic policy can help to breed.
‘If it starts raining when you’re walking the dogs, someone will say –‘that’s Brussels again’. Frans Timmerman.
Joe Biden joined the World Economic Forum for one of his final speeches as he signs off as Vice President; now an ordinary citizen as I write this blog. His claim that the US could afford to send everyone to college for free fits into a larger plea from Shakira for more early years education.
Education is our way of building a better society while increasing economic development. The lack of A) affordable education in highly developed countries and B) suitable education in lowly developed countries is a terrible situation. When Michael Gove made his claims about experts I believe he was wrong. I think the population in both the UK and the US are sick of not being able to be critical about experts and this has been helped by the poor communication of analysis from said experts.
World leaders need to provide education that doesn’t just ‘build knowledge’, but also builds ways of being critical and engaging with political and economic issues rather than being passive to the issues. When politicians have spoken of post-factual politics they have so far failed to recognise their own failures on the issue.
Davos will remain a mainstay in the political calendar but the collaboration that we see here must be shared across the year. Removing uncertainty and providing a balanced political and economic environment is a massive challenge but one that can only be solved through working together. However, governments simply can’t apply a plaster to the issues that have arisen this year. Without providing the population with the knowledge to be able to be critical about ’experts’, we will forever return to the same juncture of a revolt against experts. There is much uncertainty with Brexit, the new Trump administration and the EU but 2017 needs to be the year that uncertainty is met with answers.
Solving the biggest economic and political issues of our time requires citizen’s participation and input. The world needs a new way of talking about economics and it needs to be clear, real and diverse.
- For further reading visit Rethinking Economics
- Ecnmy.org is a website that has been set up to provide jargon free economics
- Thank you to all contributing authors, see below for the full list of blogs in the Davos takeover series:
- ‘Responsive and Responsible Leadership’ at Davos – but aren’t they ‘responsible’ for all this anyway? By Will Davies
- Davos must replace ‘capitalism unleashed’ with sustainability to tackle inequality by Jonathan Michie
- Tackling the global risks of inequality: the evidence case for higher public investment by Özlem Onaran
- How different does it have to get before we start changing the way we think about it? By Alan Kirman
- When populism fails, tragedy prevails by Frances Coppola
- László Andor’s Davos Diary by László Andor
- Secular Stagnation – A Missing Link by Jo Michell
- Economics is not enough by Andy Ross
- Austerity and the mere problem of causality by Paul Middledich
- Globalisation of trade versus globalisation of finance by Geoff Tily