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The Trump and Thunberg Show: Davos Diary

Simon Kennedy

(Bloomberg) -- Hello from Davos, Europe’s highest town and the location for the gathering of billionaires, politicians, bankers, academics and executives that is the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting.

We will be publishing our ‘Davos Diary’ throughout the week. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every day through Jan. 24.

Will Donald Meet Greta?

The diversity of views at Davos 2020 will be thrown into sharp relief on the opening day as President Donald Trump and climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg compete for the spotlight.

Thunberg was set to arrive on Monday via train, while Trump is expected to land on Tuesday in the presidential helicopter, Marine One. View his 2018 arrival here. 

Thunberg speaks on an 8:30 a.m. panel and then again at 1 p.m. Those appearances will dovetail Trump’s 11: 30 a.m. keynote speech. 

So will they run into each other in the warren-like corridors of the conference center? Don’t bet on it. Remember last September, Trump marched past a glaring Thunberg when they both addressed the United Nations.

Both will draw big crowds. Davosians always want to hear from a U.S. president, while climate change is this year’s hottest topic — if you’ll forgive the pun.

As he did in 2018, Trump looks likely to hail his record of sustaining economic growth and last week’s interim trade deal with China as vindication of his ‘America First’ agenda. The audience will be interested in his geopolitical views too after the U.S.’s killing of Iran’s Qassem Soleimani in Iraq heightened Middle East tensions.

Trump may be glad of the foreign trip and chance to showcase his arguments for re-election given back home lawmakers are weighing his impeachment. Click here to read more on Trump’s visit.

As for Thunberg, she returns to Davos after warning last year that “our house is on fire.” The 17-year-old said last week that she will be delivering the message that “you have not seen anything yet — you have not seen the last of us.”

Delegates may be more receptive to that message now after the WEF last week put environmental concerns atop its list of long-term risks. Click here to read Peter Coy’s story on how Davos went green.

Who Is Talking Tuesday?

Temperatures predicted to be between -12°C and 4°C; depth of snow: 51 centimetersAll times are local in Davos. Click here to watch the live broadcast.

8:30 a.m. | Common Future panel with Thunberg 8:30 a.m. | Future of Finance panel with Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat and Zurich Insurance CEO Mario Greco 11:30 a.m. | Trump gives special address 1 p.m. | Climate Apocalypse panel with Thunberg 2:15 p.m. | China’s vice premier Han Zheng gives special address 4 p.m. | Green Growth panel with Bank of England’s Mark Carney and Aramco’s Andrew Liveris 6 p.m. | Stakeholder Capitalism panel with BofA’s Brian Moynihan, IBM’s Ginni Rometty, Siemens’ Jim Snabe Be on the lookout for Bloomberg Television’s interviews with Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman South African central bank chief Lesetja Kganyago Citigroup CEO Mike Corbat Bank of America CEO Moynihan

Catch Up

2020 vision | The IMF trimmed its economic growth forecasts yet again, though it’s a little less worried about the risks. Amid the Alpine peaks, attendees will be busy debating whether we are witnessing peaks in key drivers of the world economy. Party crashers | The WEF’s executive crowd has thrived under decades of policies based on freeing up business and markets. Now, governments are gearing up for a more active role in steering economies through the big challenges of the coming years, from global warming and inequality to the great race for a technological edge. EU clout | Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the European Union must be prepared to back up its diplomacy with force if it is to enjoy complete security. Magnate magnet | Against a backdrop of fevered debate about the ills of inequality and calls for wealth taxes, more than a hundred billionaires are jetting to Davos this week. The green spirit has also gripped the richest, with private planes heading to the meeting able to fill their tanks with fuel designed to lower carbon emissions.  Zauberberg 2020 | The clinics of Davos, built more than a century ago for treating tuberculosis, are now tackling afflictions of the 21st century: burnout and depression.

Quote of the Day

“Tentative stabilization, sluggish recovery” was IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva’s description of the outlook for global growth in 2020.

Davos Data Download 


This is the 50th time World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab has convened an annual meeting. And although the number of delegates attending Davos is capped, the organization’s revenue keeps growing: it stood at 345 million Swiss francs last year.

One Last Thing...

As the IMF looks to the future, it’s time for our annual review of how accurate Davos delegates were a year ago. Although the IMF was overly optimistic in projecting expansion of 3.5% for the year, it and others were right in rejecting recession fears and in predicting the U.S.-China trade spat would harm demand. “The chances of a recession short of a major mistake or accident this year are limited,” Philipp Hildebrand, vice chairman of BlackRock, said last January. He dubbed the U.S.-China clash the top “meta risk.” As for central banks, UBS Chairman Axel Weber correctly predicted interest rates would be cut and billionaire Ray Dalio said there had been an “inappropriate desire” to hike. The Federal Reserve ended up easing monetary policy three times in 2019. Not everyone in Davos was right about the Fed. Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman tipped it to raise rates once or twice more.

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--With assistance from Jeremy Diamond, Chris Reiter and Iain Rogers.

To contact the author of this story: Simon Kennedy in London at skennedy4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Zoe Schneeweiss at zschneeweiss@bloomberg.net, Fergal O'Brien

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