Every winter, there's an international meeting in Davos, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum. It's an organization that includes politicians, businesspeople, scholars, sometimes actors, basically movers and shakers. They aimed to improve the world by addressing issues like poverty, conflict and the global economy. But the event has also been criticized as an elitist meeting that does more talking than actual problem-solving.
Either way, the meeting that's going on right now is looking at the uncertainty of the year ahead, like an investor or a skier might look at risk and then try to minimize it. 2016 was a year of surprises. The word here in Davos is that 2017 could present similar challenges.
So, what are some of the risks facing the global business community? Something that could take a nice outing and turn it into an injury, steady growth into a global recession? As the political and business elites gather here in Davos, 2017 could shape up to be a year of extreme risks, and here are the biggest:
U.S. going off the path and into the trees where there's less visibility. All eyes, if you will, will be on President Trump. Will he blaze his own trail when it comes to trade? U.S. involvement within the NATO alliance, and how about the U.S., for example, in the Middle East? How about Chinese moguls? Economic relations with Beijing are always a little bit bumpy. How tough will the moguls get this year? Europe potentially going off a cliff.
One major obstacle here in Davos is the widening gap between the rich and the poor, and the resentment that's creating within the European Union. There are major elections this year. France, Germany and the Netherlands, and the results could push Europe over the political cliff. So, I've chosen the ultimate route, slow and steady, hard work but less risky, with the ultimate goal of avoiding disaster in 2017.