Davos Notebook

What’s threatening the world?

Ian Bremmer discusses the World Economic Forum’s global risk report:

Three-and-a-half questions for the Davos gurus

DAVOS/For the last several years, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has published an annual report on global risk, as part of the run-up to the storied annual meeting in Davos. The 50-page report makes for gloomy reading: it is a dense collection of some of the major threats to the world’s security — from asset price collapse to weapons of mass destruction — and the interconnections between them. And they’re all carefully mapped in terms of their perceived likelihood and perceived economic impact.

You’ve got hand it to WEF: their report is thorough and sobering, and makes a great reference tool for later in the year. Last year’s report said that “there is a rising risk of sovereign defaults,” and that proved more accurate and expensive than anyone wished.

Yet for all its insistence on a big-picture, global perspective, the WEF risk report can seem internally contradictory or just hollow, as if pieces of cloth were produced in separate quarters with no one sewing them into a coherent quilt.
And so, for those who want the big picture to be even bigger, here are three-and-a-half major questions raised, but not answered by the WEF risk report.