According to Davos leader Klaus Schwab, an impending global economic crisis may very well provoke a tsunami of immigration into Europe that will make today’s waves of immigrants look like mere ripples.
Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), believes that the plummeting prices of commodities signals an economic disaster for the entire developing world, which will have devastating effects on population displacement.
“Look how many countries in Africa, for example, depend on the income from oil exports,” Schwab said in an interview prior to the WEF’s 46th annual meeting, scheduled to begin in Davos later this week. “Now imagine 1 billion inhabitants, imagine they all move north.”
As a solution, Schwab advocates a greater sense of solidarity with the developing world, with the awareness that economic programs that benefit one country eventually benefit all. In order for reason to triumph, Schwab surmises, “we have to re-establish a sense that we all are in the same boat.”
A simple economic analysis of falling commodity prices is insufficient, Schwab suggests. Instead, leaders must examine the deeper causes of the present crisis, as well as the long-term effects both on the economy and on society as a whole.
“First, we have to look at the root causes of this,” Schwab said. “The normal citizen today is overwhelmed by the complexity and rapidity of what’s happening, not only in the political world but also the technological field.”
Schwab speaks of a time of “unexpected consequences” to describe a world where local decisions have repercussions throughout the globe, in ways that are difficult to foresee. It is this lack of foresight, on the other hand, that has led to “erosion of trust in decision makers.”
Along with his fears of heightened European migration, Schwab has also expressed his concern that technological innovation may cost some 20 million jobs in the coming years, which in turn could risk “hollowing out the middle class,” which he calls “a pillar of our democracies.”
Curiously, after issuing his dire predictions of an invasion of immigrants of unprecedented proportions and the implosion of the middle class, Schwab accused U.S. Republicans of fear-mongering.
Schwab told CNBC that presidential candidate Donald Trump and other politicians were guilty of playing on people’s fears, but he would welcome him at WEF anyway.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.