The central theme of this year’s World Economic Forum, which ended Saturday, was the “fourth industrial revolution” — the idea that technological advances will allow ever greater levels of automation, transforming the global economy in profound ways.
In a report on the implications of these advances, UBS said they were likely to increase inequality across the globe, and the authors expressed skepticism about whether policymakers could stop the trend.
At a lunch meeting titled “The end of political consensus,” there was broad agreement that rising inequality, and the sense that elites are only looking out for themselves, is fueling resentment of established politicians and giving rise to populism in the form of politicians like Donald Trump and France's Marine Le Pen.
The attendees, including Harvard historian Niall Ferguson and former European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, had few answers about how to combat this trend beyond more responsible leadership, Reuters reports.
"We are witnessing the decay of power," Moises Naim of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told the audience. "The view is that anything is better than the people in power."