Wealth gap, debt top risks ahead of Davos

Tue Jan 8, 2013 11:28am EST
 

By Ben Hirschler

LONDON (Reuters) - Fragile economies and extreme weather have combined to crank up the global risk dial in the past year, creating an increasingly dangerous mix, according to the World Economic Forum.

Despite Europe's avoidance of a euro break-up in 2012 and the United States stepping back from its fiscal cliff, business leaders and academics fear politicians are failing to address fundamental problems.

That is the conclusion of the group's Global Risks 2013 report, which surveyed more than 1,000 experts and industry bosses and found they were slightly more pessimistic about the outlook for the decade ahead than a year ago.

"It reflects a loss of confidence in leadership from governments," said Lee Howell, the WEF managing director responsible for the report.

Severe wealth gaps and unsustainable government finances were seen as the biggest economic threats facing the world, as they were last January. There was also a marked increase in focus on the dangers posed by severe weather.

The 80-page analysis of 50 risks for the next 10 years comes ahead of the World Economic Forum's (WEF) annual meeting in the Swiss ski resort of Davos from January 23 to 27, where the rich and powerful will ponder the planet's future.

Bringing together business leaders, politicians and central bankers, Davos has come to symbolize the modern globalised world dominated by successful multinational corporations.

Chief executives arriving on their private jets may still ooze confidence but "Davos man" - and most delegates are male - has plenty to worry about these days.   Continued...

 
A logo of the World Economic Forum (WEF) is seen stuck on a window at the congress center in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos January 23, 2012. The upcoming WEF will be held from January 25 to 29. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann