While the physical event is postponed until the end of May, the world’s political and business elite have gathered online during the Davos 2021 week to talk about the pressing issues facing the global economy.

Joy web portrait

Under the overall theme of  ‘A Crucial Year to Rebuild Trust’, Davos’s week-long programme has five main streams: resilient economic systems, responsible growth, environmental management, harnessing emerging technologies and advancing global co-operation.

On the first day of the forum, Chinese president Xi Jinping’s keynote address focused on the multilateral co-operation that was needed to tackle Covid-19 and climate change. He spoke about international macroeconomic policy coordination and closing the divide between developed and developing nations, as well as committing the country to greater economic liberalisation.

“As a longstanding supporter of economic globalisation, China is committed to following  through on its fundamental policy of opening up,” Mr Xi said. “China will continue to promote trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation, help keep the global industrial and supply chains smooth and stable, and advance high-quality Belt and Road co-operation.”

In terms of macroeconomic policy, on a panel discussing restoring economic growth, Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, signalled that a two-stage recovery in 2021 would need continual fiscal and monetary support. “Phase one is about crossing that bridge to recovery, where the journey is a little bit delayed but should not be derailed…” she said. “In terms of policies, it means that fiscal still has to play a dominant role and has to be very active. On the monetary front our goal is to continue to support all sectors of the economy and make sure that financing conditions remain favourable…

“If we then cross that bridge and get to the second phase, then it is a new economy that we are talking about… Both on the fiscal front and monetary policy front, authorities will have to stay the course and to continue  support. At the same investment will have to really be focused in order to lay the ground for a new economy where scarring will hopefully be avoided or reduced by the measures that will be taken,” she said.

 In the January issue of The Banker, international thought leaders share their views on the big issues being debated during Davos, including:

Odile Renaud-Basso, president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, writes about the institution’s ambitious plan to broaden and deepen climate activities by 2025;

Grant Robertson, New Zealand’s deputy prime minister and finance minister, outlines how the government is looking beyond gross domestic product as the measure of success of the economic recovery;

John WH Denton, secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce, underscores the capital small and medium-sized enterprises need to restore cross-border trade to pre-pandemic levels;

Amanda Pullinger, CEO of 100 Women in Finance, stresses the need for initiatives that will create more equality and diversity in the industry;

Luis Carranza Ugarte, president of CAF, the Development Bank of Latin America, argues that the post-pandemic era is the perfect opportunity for investment in the region’s infrastructure; and

Vanina Farber, professor and the chair of elea Centre for Social Innovation at IMD and Peter Wuffli, founder and chairman of elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalisation, honorary chairman of IMD and former CEO of UBS, suggest that a more inclusive capitalism can be forged from integrating social entrepreneurship and impact investing.

The online World Economic Forum runs from January 25-29. Follow the conversation #DavosAgenda

Joy Macknight is managing editor of The Banker. Follow her on Twitter @joymacknight

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