Certain business and political leaders believe that a problem that is gaining a lot of attention in American boardrooms deserves more attention.
Underdiscussed Issues in Davos
In the bustling hub of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, prominent figures are extensively discussing artificial intelligence, the conflict in Ukraine, American elections, climate change, and much more. However, amidst the diverse topics, a subject of considerable debate has emerged among leaders and policy-makers in the American business sphere.
The Ongoing Discourse: Rising Anti-Semitism
Notably absent from the official agenda, recent events have sparked discussions surrounding the surge in anti-Jewish sentiment, particularly following the October 7th attacks on Israel led by Hamas. Some officials are actively working to address and rectify this issue.
Panel Discussion: Navigating Sensitivity
While hundreds of presentations cover various topics, only one panel in the agenda delves into this matter. The afternoon session features Vice President Kamala Harris’s husband, Doug Emhoff, Israel’s First Lady Michal Herzog, and Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League.
Private Sector’s Perspective
Corporate and banking leaders, such as Davos regular Leon Kalvaria, expressed disappointment, stating, “I’m dismayed that there hasn’t been more dialogue about anti-Jewish sentiment here. I hope as the week progresses, it receives more attention worldwide, as leaders in both private and public sectors have a real responsibility to not only condemn such intolerance but also discuss its real-world impact.”
Personal Initiatives and Screenings
Some private initiatives have taken the lead. On Tuesday, the Israeli military held a private screening of a 47-minute film showcasing footage primarily shot by attackers during the October 7th incidents. This exclusive footage left attendees visibly shaken, prompting Greenblatt to tell DealBook, “People quietly left the room, either in tears or simply stunned.”
Palantir’s Engagement and Advocacy
Palantir hosted a program on Wednesday, including relatives of Israelis taken hostage since the October attacks. The “off-the-record” session was moderated by data consulting firm CEO Alex Karp. Among the participating officials were Amazon’s Andy Jassy, tech mogul Michael Dell, advertising executive Martin Sorrell, CFOW Ruth Porat, and non-profit leader Nicola Mendelsohn.
Davos’ Historical Aversion to Sensitive Issues
Davos has a long history of steering clear of sensitive topics to keep nations and businesses content. LGTBQT+ rights serve as an example, staying off the agenda for years. According to Greenblatt, privately, CEOs are concerned. “I’m hearing from CEOs present at the event. They want to talk about anti-Jewish sentiment,” he told DealBook.
Metamorphosis in the Tech Landscape
Meta’s board is undergoing a significant transformation as Sheryl Sandberg, one of its founders and longtime executives, steps down. Mark Zuckerberg’s close confidante, who served as COO, decided to resign in the wake of controversies over the platform’s handling of hate speech and misinformation. Sandberg reassured that she would remain an advisor to the company, signaling a shift in Meta’s leadership structure.
Apple’s Response to Patent Battle Loss
In the aftermath of losing a patent battle, Apple has decided to remove a feature from its watches. The blood-oxygen sensor will be omitted from the Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2, starting today. This decision follows an International Trade Commission ruling that Apple violated a patent held by medical tech company Masimo. Despite Apple’s bid to delay the sales ban pending an appeal, a court dismissed the company’s plea.
TSMC Predicts Rapid Growth Due to AI Demand
TSMC forecasts accelerated growth in 2024 due to increased demand for artificial intelligence. As the world’s leading contract chipmaker, the company expects revenue to surge by up to 25% this year, attributing the rise to companies heavily investing in artificial intelligence capabilities. TSMC also warned of potential delays in constructing its second production facility in Arizona, expressing uncertainty about the timeline for producing its most advanced chips at the location.
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Challenges for Meta’s Successor
Meta faces a new challenge as it seeks a successor for Sheryl Sandberg. The company, dealing with the aftermath of widespread criticism and scrutiny, aims to find a leader capable of navigating the complex landscape of content moderation, privacy concerns, and regulatory pressures. The departure of Sandberg, who played a pivotal role in shaping Meta’s trajectory, underscores the urgent need for a strategic and adept executive to guide the company forward.
Duration of Market Volatility
Investors hoping for stability in Davos might be feeling disappointed as recent days have seen fluctuations in stocks, with messages from several CEOs on Wall Street and European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde. In the Swiss Alps: Stay on your skis and acknowledge that interest rate cuts are imminent.
Heading: Federal Reserve’s Caution
Businesses are reconsidering their stance on the Fed’s moves. There’s a 61% chance of rate cuts in March, lower than January’s 96%. Yet, cautious optimism prevails. According to Ron O’Hanley, CEO of State Street, “The Fed was very clear in its dot plot,” but the market’s decision to double down and then reverse remains puzzling.
2023 Market Surge and Caution
Towards the end of 2023, markets surged, reaching record highs. This rally was fueled by expectations of rising central bank rates and a new phase of lower borrowing costs. However, central bankers are urging caution since Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell hinted at possible rate cuts in 2024.
Lagarde, speaking in Davos on Wednesday, warned that investors’ high stakes might be potentially harmful. She stated, “This speculation is not helping in our fight against inflation,” contributing to selling in stocks and bonds.
Mixed Messages on U.S. Economy
Conflicting signals abound for the U.S. economy. Recent retail sales figures suggest consumers are still spending, potentially hindering the Fed’s efforts to curb inflation. Simultaneously, labor markets in some regions are slowing, as revealed in the Federal Reserve’s “Beige Book” survey released on Wednesday, impacting prices differently.
Wall Street’s Outlook on Inflation
Some on Wall Street are closely watching inflation, predicting a further increase this year. Analysts at Morgan Stanley, UBS, and Barclays estimate that the primary driver of inflation, affecting food and energy, will intensify. Barclays even issued its first rate cut call for June to March this week.
Upcoming Speeches from Officials
Next in line: Lagarde is set to speak again today, and Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic is also scheduled to address the audience. Bostic made headlines last month when he stated that inflation is still high, and there is no “urgency” to reduce borrowing costs, just days before Powell suggested considering rate cuts in three instances this year.
Agencies Prepared for a Jolt
Supreme Court justices on Wednesday heard arguments in two cases related to commercial fishermen that could limit the ways federal agencies regulate business. Outcome: the traditionally conservative majority of the court seemed sympathetic to the argument that a change in Washington’s regulatory power structure is needed.
Critique of Chevron Doctrine
These cases represent a major examination of the Chevron doctrine, a decades-old principle based on administrative law. It states that agencies should interpret the law in their areas of expertise, and courts have very limited power to challenge them. Ultimately, “agencies know things courts don’t know,” said Justice Elena Kagan, “That’s Chevron.”
Power Dynamics and Economic Impact
Critics argue that Chevron gives agencies too much power. Justice Neil Gorsuch argues that Chevron injures vulnerable people, citing “migrants, asylum seekers, experienced social security disability applicants, who have no power to affect agencies.”
Opposition from Powerful Figures
As expected, powerful figures like Charles Koch want to see the doctrine weakened. The Chamber of Commerce argued in an amicus brief that the doctrine contributed to “explosions of agency overreach and rulemaking that impose ‘astronomical economic costs'” amounting to “up to $1.9 trillion annually.”
“If he doesn’t find it attractive in New Hampshire, he won’t throw money into the rat hole.”
- Ken Langone, Home Depot co-founder, and a major supporter of Nikki Haley, on whether he would contribute more money to her campaign in the upcoming New Hampshire Republican primary.
Amazon Bets on Local Sports
Amazon announced on Wednesday that it would acquire a minority stake in the country’s largest regional sports network, intensifying competition for live game broadcasts from some of the most prominent professional leagues. The tech giant will invest $115 million in Diamond Sports Group, which owns and broadcasts nearly three-quarters of all Major League Baseball and NBA games. Amazon will gain rights to broadcast games for more than 40 teams.