Greetings from Davos, Switzerland. I'll be here all week bringing you interviews and insights from the Alps. Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,376 words, or about a 5 minute read.
Situational awareness: "French President Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump of the U.S. agreed to a truce in their dispute over digital taxes that will mean neither side imposes punitive tariffs this year, a French diplomat said" (Bloomberg).
A parade of billionaires, CEOs, world leaders and hangers-on has now arrived in Davos, Switzerland, bearing skis, packed schedules and deep concerns about the global economy.
The big picture: 53% of CEOs expect global economic growth to decline in 2020, up from 29% in 2019 and just 5% in 2018. Their views of their own companies’ prospects were the bleakest since 2009.
What they’re worried about:
What they’re doing about it:
What they foresee:
Who to expect: 15,000 total attendees (3,000 of them with official invitations) including 100 billionaires and 53 heads of state or government, per Politico.
Between the lines: The irony of the uber-rich and super-powerful arriving by private jet to discuss these topics in a proudly exclusive setting (there are at least 10 tiers of access badge) is lost on no one.
Trump at Davos in 2018. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images
Davos opened this evening on the third anniversary of President Trump's inauguration, and on the eve of impeachment proceedings that will likely be watched more closely than his speech on Tuesday morning.
The big picture: Trump’s America First populism and climate skepticism are anathema to the Davos set, but his tax cuts and economic record are not.
Trump's Davos dance card:
Also heading to Davos: Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who is defying a travel ban and may struggle to re-enter Venezuela.
Parental leave is steadily becoming ubiquitous around the world, but workplace cultures in many countries continue to prevent employees — especially fathers — from taking time off, Axios' Erica Pandey reports.
A U.S. military convoy near the Syria-Turkey border. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images
Martin Indyk, a former diplomat with decades of experience in the Middle East, set off a debate among foreign policy analysts over the weekend with a piece in the WSJ headlined, "The Middle East Isn’t Worth It Anymore."
His main point: "Few vital interests of the U.S. continue to be at stake in the Middle East. The challenge now, both politically and diplomatically, is to draw the necessary conclusions from that stark fact."
His bottom line: "It is time to eschew never-ending wars and grandiose objectives — like pushing Iran out of Syria, overthrowing Iran’s ayatollahs or resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — in favor of more limited goals that can be achieved with more modest means."
Go deeper: Trump to decide soon on peace plan release date.
Gen. Bipin Rawat. Photo: Pankaj Nangia/India Today Group/Getty
“The Brazilian art of the next decade will be heroic and will be national... as it will be deeply committed to the urgent aspirations of our people, or it will be nothing.”— Brazilian Culture Minister Roberto Alvim in remarks that echoed Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. He was fired.
“Zelensky has a very primitive understanding of the economy."— Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk, in leaked audio. He offered his resignation but President Volodymyr Zelensky didn't accept it.
"Girls and boys as young as 10 and 12 are now being radicalized. These people can still be isolated from radicalization in a gradual way, but there are people who have completely been radicalized. These people need to be taken out separately, possibly taken into some de-radicalization camps. We’ve got de-radicalization camps going on in our country.”— India's top military commander, Gen. Bipin Rawat, on Kashmiris. His remarks were vague, but called to mind China's mass detentions in Xinjiang.
Beer makes it through a flood in Ngungu, Congo. Photo: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images
Congo is one of the hardest countries on earth in which to travel, but big beer brands manage to get their brews to far-flung villages. The Economist boarded a river barge to find out how:
Protesters walk through clouds of tear gas in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo: Sam Tarling/Getty Images
"I do think that it’s important to do right for your country.”— Isabel Dos Santos last week claiming to have "sacrificed" for Angola and insisting her wealth had nothing to do with her father's 38 years as president
"Leaked documents reveal how Africa's richest woman made her fortune through exploiting her own country, and corruption."— The BBC on a new ICIJ investigation of Dos Santos