- Business Insider attended the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
- Here’s what world leaders and top executives were quietly saying about Trump, Brexit, the market, and China at Davos this week.
- Also read: We spoke to 40+ CEOs and business leaders in 3 days. Here’s what excites – and worries – the world’s billionaires and business elite.
DAVOS, Switzerland – This weeks some of us from Business Insider went to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.
The WEF asks reporters attending the event to adhere to “Chatham House Rules,” which means you’re allowed to report what you’ve heard, but you can’t say who said it.
The idea is to encourage candor.
Here are some nuggets I picked up:
An aeroplane manufacturer and a client talking about Trump, tariffs, and the shutdown.
Client: Tariffs are the dumbest thing you can do. Just because you’re a successful developer in New York doesn’t mean you understand anything about global business.
Manufacturer: The problem with tariffs are like the problem with the shutdown. Both sides are just so dug in. There’s no one in the middle being reasonable. You held out hope Mitch McConnell would be the adult, but he’s really let us down.
China’s economy is in worse shape than its government says.
A Japanese reporter says: Don’t believe China’s growth numbers. Officials are worried. The big cities are fine, but the developing areas are slowing. Machine parts sales from Japan to China are dropping dramatically.
A hedge fund manager says: China is lying about 6.5% growth. What’s wrong with 4%?
Germany and the EU are not going to bail out the United Kingdom on Brexit.
A top European government official says: Don’t expect Germany to push the EU to delay the March 29 deadline for Article 50. Not unless there is a much clearer indication of what the UK actually wants.
Buckle up for a wild year in the markets.
A hedge fund manager says: Expect more volatility. Thirty per cent of the market is ETFs and mutual funds. They have to buy when they get inflows and have to sell on downward turns, and there are no market makers in the middle anymore. So 2019 will have lots of sawtooth ups and downs.
There’s reason to be optimistic about the war in Yemen.
Says a top European foreign policy bureaucrat: Unlike six months ago, the Saudis now want to end the war. Iran was never particularly invested, and only sees the conflict as an opportunity to damage Saudi Arabia. The locals in Yemen, who are obviously suffering the most, also seek peace.