WEF19: What's being said at Davos?

World leaders, finance chiefs, business head honchos and celebrities have descended on Davos for the World Economic Forum.
World leaders, finance chiefs, business head honchos and celebrities have descended on Davos for the World Economic Forum. PHOTO: REUTERS

DAVOS, SWITZERLAND - World leaders, finance chiefs, business head honchos and celebrities have descended on Davos for the World Economic Forum. Here's what they're saying:

JAN 24

CLIMATE CHANGE

“Climate change is the defining issue of our time. We are losing the race.”  – UN chief Antonio Guterres

JAN 23

GLOBAL RULES ON TECH

“When it comes to technology, I would support an overarching body that’ll set standards on a whole range of things.” – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who said greater oversight of the tech sector would also be on the agenda of African Union leaders when they meet early next month in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“We need to respect the independent choices of model of technology management and of public policies made by countries, and their right to participate in the global technological governance system as equals.” – Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, who emphasized that each country should also be free to set some of its own policies.

FACEBOOK USERS' PRIVACY

"We did not anticipate all of the risks from connecting so many people... We need to earn back trust." –  Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg

CLIMATE CHANGE

“I think it is insane that people are gathered here to talk about the climate and they arrive here in private jet.” – Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg

TAX RATE ON THE RICH

“No I am not supportive of that, and I don’t think it would help the growth of the US economy.” – Dell Technologies founder and CEO Michael Dell on whether he would support a proposal by Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to tax millionaires at a 70 per cent tax rate on income exceeding US$10 million (S$13.5 million).

"There is actually a lot of economics that suggests that it’s not necessarily going to hurt growth and I think we have to examine it more closely.”  – Dr Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Initiative on the Digital Economy

JAN 22

CLIMATE CHANGE

“We are now so numerous, so powerful, so all-pervasive…that we can actually exterminate whole ecosystems without even noticing it.”  –  British naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough

“I’d like to say it’s a personal treat for me to be sitting here asking you questions. Normally I have to endure people asking me questions.” – Britain’s Prince William cracks an opening joke as he begins an interview of Sir Attenborough.

US POLITICS

“Resign.” – Former US Secretary of State and 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry, when asked what he would say to President Donald Trump if he were seated next to him.

POPULIST WAVE

“New winds are blowing across the world.” – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, addressing the Davos audience by video from Washington, celebrating a wave of populist “disruption” across the globe.

WORKPLACE EQUALITY

“Global brands should now take action, create inclusive workplaces and leverage their economic impact to move policymakers and cultural leaders to accept and protect all people, including LGBTI individuals.” –GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis

WEF APPEAL

“No other event has the same global appeal.” – Andy Christie, private jets director at Air Charter Service, which forecasts nearly 1,500 private jet flights over the week of Davos to nearby airports, despite growing alarm over climate change and the carbon footprint of such flights.

“It’s not pessimistic ... It’s just a feeling that it won’t be so great this year. It is almost dull. I don’t understand it. I’m still trying to sort it out.” – Harvard professor Kenneth Rogoff, a Davos regular, agrees with others that the WEF has so far lacked oomph a year after US President Trump upended the forum.

JAN 21

ECONOMIC GROWTH

"After two years of solid expansion, the world economy is growing more slowly than expected and risks are rising. Does that mean a global recession is around the corner? No. But the risk of a sharper decline in global growth has certainly increased." – International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde

TRADE TENSIONS

"There are so many variables and so much uncertainty globally, from the trade tension to geopolitical changes, so a lot of market activity and market sentiment are out of our control... Sometimes we spook ourselves, so it remains to be seen how slow is slow, how bad is bad, let's see how the first quarter looks." – Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing chairman Laura Cha

"With the rise of trade tension and protectionism, it stands to reason that confidence is waning. We were a little bit spoiled by the environment the past six to eight years after the financial crisis... People are getting used to the volatility." – US chairman at PwC Tim Ryan

BRAZIL'S ECONOMY

"Brazil is taking measures so that the world re-establishes confidence in us, that our business returns to flourishing between Brazil and the world, without being guided by ideology. We will show that we are a country that is safe for investments, especially in the area of agri-business, which is very important for us." – Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro