Theresa May and Donald Trump are skipping this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos to deal with crises at home. May will be triaging the country’s increasingly chaotic and dysfunctional attempt to withdraw from the EU without triggering economic collapse. Trump, meanwhile, will be trying to force Democrats to accept his border wall funding demands and get the government reopened as the shutdown shaves momentum off US growth.
Their decision to skip the meeting bodes poorly for global integration and the rules-based international economic order, especially as French president Emmanuel Macron is also staying home to deal with France’s “yellow vest” protestors and Chinese president Xi Jinping will not attend.
Global storm clouds are gathering, from troubles in US bond markets to slowing growth in Germany to the ongoing US/China trade war. The only hope for resolution is dialogue and co-ordinated global efforts to sustain trade and growth. With world leaders increasingly embroiled in domestic issues – most of them the fruit of poor political decisions and tensions that have been deliberately stoked by the politicians in question – the outlook for a healthier world is poor.