World Economic Forum Highlights

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 24JAN15 - (FLTR) Laurence Fink , Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, BlackRock, USA, Joaquim Levy, Minister of Finance of Brazil, Haruhiko Kuroda, Governor of the Bank of Japan; Global Agenda Council on Japan, Benoît Coeure , Member of the Executive Board, European Central Bank, Frankfurt, Mark J. Carney, Governor of the Bank of England; World Economic Forum Foundation Board Member, Min Zhu , Deputy Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Washington DC; World Economic Forum Foundation Board Member are captured during the session 'The Global Economic Outlook' at the Annual Meeting 2015 of the World Economic Forum at the congress centre in Davos, January 24, 2015. WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM/swiss-image.ch/Photo Moritz Hager

1. German Chancellor Angela Merkel calmly took the stage midweek and spoke in vague and measured tones about European unity while offstage the entire European financial community waited with bated breath for the European Central Bank to make a decision on monetary stimulus. In a model of German efficiency, Merkel stepped offstage at precisely the moment the ECB announced it would purchase 60 billion euros in bonds every month — the plan amounts to about $1.3 trillion in total — to ward off inflation and kick-start growth across the 19 nations that share the euro currency.

2. The Russia-Ukraine conflict was never far away from the minds of delegates. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko made an emotional speech in which he again accused Moscow of being the aggressor in a conflict that has killed close to 5,000 people. Meanwhile, EU leaders said they would continue to firmly back sanctions. Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb said Merkel and Poroshenko speak frequently with Russian President Vladimir Putin to push him toward a diplomatic solution.

3. A lot got discussed behind closed doors with world leaders and bigwig CEOs, including Jack Ma from China’s Alibaba and John Chambers of Cisco, that we can’t tell you about. World leaders engaged in backroom talks, too, including French President Francois Hollande and Iraqi leader Haider Al-Abadi, who continued to press international supporters for more arms, ammunition and airstrikes for his country’s fight against the Islamic State. Abadi revealed during a question-and-answer session that he had received a large arms shipping “free of charge” earlier in the week.

4. Several leaders including Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak and King Abdullah II of Jordan had to leave early to attend the funeral of the Saudi king. President Obama, who was not here, confirmed that he, too, would travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to pay his respects to the family of King Abdullah. He will also meet with new Saudi King Salam.

5. Gender parity at Davos was just as far off as ever, with just 17% of participants women, according to Quartz, who crunched the numbers. That’s the same as two years ago. A WEF study last year concluded it would take 80 years for the number of female CEOs to reach 50%. But EY, a consultancy, released a report ahead of the event that offered three ways companies could quicken the pace toward leadership parity.

In another attempt at accelerating gender parity, a female protester disrobed on Davos’ main strip while shouting, “Women need change.” During a panel Saturday, panelists including Melinda Gates and Rwandan President Paul Kagame urged more action on the topic.

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