GENEVA (dpa) – The movers and shakers attending the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos will meet at a time when post-crisis optimism has given way to new anxieties about the path of the global economy.
A hopeful mood prevailed among many of the politicians, central bankers and business leaders who gathered for last year’s meeting in the Swiss mountain resort.
But, ahead of this year’s forum, which starts on Wednesday, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde set the tone by warning about the post-crisis risks to the global economy.
“Too many countries are still weighed down by the legacies of the financial crisis, including high debt and high unemployment,” she said Thursday in Washington.
Companies and households were afraid to spend money because they were uncertain of the future, added Lagarde.
Lagarde will be among the 2,500 participants in Davos set to discuss economic and monetary policies to overcome these problems.
An especially divisive issue has been the question of whether the European Central Bank (ECB) should start a large-scale government bond-buying programme aimed at spurring economic growth and heading off deflation in the eurozone.
ECB chief Mario Draghi is set to announce on Thursday in Frankfurt if and when such a programme will be launched.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to speak in Davos only hours after the announcement. German leaders and experts have spoken out against bond-buying, questioning whether it would be effective and highlighting risks to German tax-payers.
The German government is also fielding a large number of German ministers to Davos, reacting to a strong interest from leaders from other countries to meet German counterparts, said Philipp Roesler, a former German vice chancellor who is now managing director of the World Economic Forum.
“They hope for a more active German role in global politics and for Germany’s help in solving their problems,” he told dpa.
Next Sunday’s elections in Greece, which could bring the leftist eurosceptic SYRIZA party to power, is set to be one of the problems to be discussed.
SYRIZA’s promise of boosting the minimum wage and persuading eurozone countries to cut Greece’s debt have raised fears that the country could leave its austerity reform path, pushing its economy back into the danger zone and threatening the survival of the euro currency in the process.