The conflict has shown how war can sever the economic ties on which globalisation was built. The EU is drastically reducing imports of Russian energy – fuelling inflation in Europe and threatening to make some industries uncompetitive.

Russia and Ukraine are also important suppliers of grain to world markets. Their war has increased food prices and threatened to push millions of people into hunger.


Politicians and industrialists are scanning the horizon for the next big geopolitical threat. Many have focused on Taiwan, which produces 90 per cent of the world’s most advanced semiconductors. A Chinese invasion of Taiwan might shut down TSMC, the most important semiconductor producer, with devastating results for the world economy.

Even geopolitical tensions that stop well short of war have disrupted international commerce. The increasingly wary US attitude to China has led the Biden administration to sharply restrict exports of sensitive technology there. This affects not just US companies, but also foreign technology giants, such as South Korea’s Samsung, that use US tech.

Political leaders, particularly in the West, must worry, too, about domestic pressure from populists. Many of the latter have made the WEF a symbol of inequality and rootless international capitalism.

In recent years, Davos has attracted the ire of anti-vaxxers, climate change sceptics, religious zealots and hardline nationalists. The forum features in a range of conspiracy theories. On the wilder Internet fringes, the WEF has been accused of using the pandemic to seize control of the world economy.

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