Some people question whether the West has reached a tipping point and might now embark on a period of de-globalization.  Picture shows rightwing demonstrators protesting in Brussels, Belgium, in June 2016.
Some people question whether the West has reached a tipping point and might now embark on a period of de-globalization.  Picture shows rightwing demonstrators protesting in Brussels, Belgium, in June 2016.

WEF’s Global Risk Report Warns of Polarized Societies

Rising populism amid deep public disenchantment with globalization is seen as a major threat to global developments

WEF’s Global Risk Report Warns of Polarized Societies

Populism and increasingly divided societies top the list of global risks compiled in a report ahead of the World Economic Forum’s 2017 gathering in Davos, Switzerland, from January 17-20, as an anti-establishment backlash is in full swing.
WEF’s latest Global Risk Report analyzed 30 worldwide risks and 13 underlying trends over a 10-year horizon by surveying some 750 experts and decision-makers, news outlets reported.
Getting higher growth levels, it added, is necessary but insufficient to heal the fractures in society that were evident in the election of Donald Trump as US president and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
In a wide-ranging report from the organizer of the annual gathering of political and business leaders in the Swiss resort of Davos, the WEF identified “rising income and wealth disparity” as potentially the biggest driver in global affairs over the next ten years.
As an example of this growing inequality, the WEF highlighted the massive increases in CEO pay at a time when many people in advanced economies have struggled to make ends meet following the global financial crisis.
“This points to the need for reviving economic growth, but the growing mood of anti-establishment populism suggests we may have passed the stage where this alone would remedy fractures in society: reforming market capitalism must also be added to the agenda,” it said in its latest Global Risks Report, AP said.

  Economic Inequality
“The combination of economic inequality and political polarization threatens to amplify global risks, fraying the social solidarity on which the legitimacy of our economic and political systems rests,” it added.
That’s some conclusion from an organization that’s sought to play a central role in the globalization process of the past couple of decades and that is closely identified with some of the world’s richest people.
As well as getting growth higher, the WEF identified four areas that need to be addressed urgently: the need for long-term thinking in capitalism; a recognition of the importance of identity and inclusiveness in political communities; mitigating the risks and exploiting the opportunities of new technologies such as driverless cars; and strengthening global cooperation.
It added that a failure to address the underlying sources of the populist tide poses a threat to mainstream politicians and raises the risk that the globalization trend will go into reverse.
“Some people question whether the West has reached a tipping point and might now embark on a period of de-globalization,” it said.
Although anti-establishment politics have tended to blame globalization for the loss of traditional jobs, the WEF said rapidly changing technologies have had more of an impact on labor markets.
“It is no coincidence that challenges to social cohesion and policymakers’ legitimacy are coinciding with a highly disruptive phase of technological change,” the WEF said.
Other key drivers identified in the survey of global risks related to climate change, rising cyber dependency and an aging population.

  Robots Costing Jobs?
Other dangers had not gone away, WEF officials noted, with climate concerns moving up the agenda as Trump’s arrival as president might thwart earlier plans to curb carbon emissions, DW reported.
“Many of these risks have been highlighted in past reports, except now they’re moving in the direction of having a higher impact,” one of the report’s authors, Cecilia Reyes, said in a statement.
One more risk in the spotlight was the rise of robots and the threat posed to jobs. The report named artificial intelligence and robotics as the technologies with the greatest potential for both positive and negative consequences, including exacerbating the threat posed by hacking.
The authors said that without effective governance and retraining of workers, technology might destroy a lot more jobs than it created at a time when cash-strapped governments could no longer afford earlier levels of welfare.

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