January 28th, 2013
05:39 PM ET

A decade of slow growth?

By Fareed Zakaria

Every year at Davos, people like me try to get a sense of the mood of the place, take the temperature of people in this frosty mountain resort.

Obviously, I will give you a highly impressionistic and personal picture, but it’s one I find useful since Davos does bring together leaders in government, business, media – even the NGO community – from all corners of the world. It is genuinely global in a way that few conferences are.

So what is the mood? Well, there is a sense of calm, a relief that many storms that seemed like they might be overwhelming, like the euro crisis, have been weathered. People from America are optimistic, those from emerging markets more so.

But, everywhere, there’s a sense of caution. In PWC’s annual global CEO survey, released this past week, 52 percent saw no change from the current tepid economic environment, 28 percent saw decline and 18 percent said things will get better. It is still an improvement from last year, when 48 percent predicted a decline. The last few years of recovery followed by slowdowns, of political crisis, of new terror attacks from North Africa have made people wary of excessive optimism.

Things are stable, crises have been contained, there’s some growth on the horizon, but no one’s ready to declare that we’ve turned any corners. There are no bulls in Davos this year, no countries taking center stage.

One symbol of the mood, the big splashy parties that companies like Google used to throw, have been quietly discontinued. Not that Google couldn't afford it, by the way – they just had their first year with $50 billion in revenues.

Underlying this caution, I believe, is a sense that the growth that people had gotten used to, the economic growth of the past that countries and companies had hoped for the in the future, just doesn’t seem likely.

The IMF released a new report last week with growth numbers that are low – lower than they had projected only a few months ago. The world is coming to grips with the fact that the global financial crisis might have ushered in not a few years, but a decade of slow growth – and we’re not quite halfway through it.

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Topics: Economy

soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Robin Crites

    this slow growth scenario is one designed to hurt most those who are least able to defend themselves - the poor

    January 28, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Reply
    • Scott

      If there is a design for slow growth as you seem to imply then its Obama who is the author isn't it?

      Obama with a ploicy that hurts poor people most of all. Interesting and insightful comment

      January 31, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Reply
      • zghortaman

        funny. Last time I checked, it wasn't President Obama who labeled the poor as "parasites", "lazy", and "takers". It was the GOP. Funny how they lose elections when they talk that way!

        February 1, 2013 at 4:13 am |
  2. 100 % ETHIO

    "A decade of slow growth?";

    is a Major assignment for all Americans. It is really a serious issue.

    Currently, Americans are well benefited by the costs of precious lives that has been sacrificed, since the establishment of America and until recently, by American Heroes, Militarily and Scientifically.

    So, what are the rest of the Americans' responsibility, who keep fattening their bank accounts, by the cost of True Americans? For this case, the Great Britain (Christians), who faced then challenged so many Wars, Hardships and Starvations, for so long, with the help of, no-one, except the will of Almighty God.

    As the good Christians, Great Britain brought anyone, who faced hardships elsewhere, to live peacefully and enjoy the fruits of America, without any costs.

    Unfortunately, those who cried for help to be "welcome to America" (President George W Bush quote), turned overnight and keep damaging American images, by any means they can.

    Frankly witnessing, France wants America to fail, Jewish wants America to fail (they criticizing American Presidents and past Heroes Armies by publishing many Books and other methods), Muslim fanatics who are being over-feed by Oil Money, and other non-Christians.

    All the above negative consequences, makes America the fail victim of slow economic development.

    Why the new American Christian generations wait until this happened? Are they ignoring those who established America?

    Look at the current North/South-Poles. That was what America was, when the Great Britain entered, decades and decades ago.

    Now, the funny things are, Jewish, Muslims, Hindus and non-Christians formed their own communities, to care only for their own people.

    Umm, imagine if America was established by these groups, they will never allowed Christians to enter America.

    Look for example, the current Saudi-Arabia and Jewish State. Christians are prosecuted and not allowed to participate in Government and Public Sector jobs.

    In Almighty God, we trust.

    January 28, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Reply
    • Quantum

      Put down the racist kool-aid and take a chill pill. I don't think sane christians in this country think like you. But keep up your racist and ignorant dribble so that we can make you out of the pack. This is NOT a Christian nation and Neither was it founded as one to be, sorry to burst your bubble.

      January 28, 2013 at 11:29 pm | Reply
      • Bill

        As for the racist kool-aid from the commenter above, I agree with your viewpoint. As for the U.S. being a Christian country and founded on Christian principles, this cannot be denied. The United States has protections in place to seperate church and state, but its founders had no illuisions that this was a Christian country. So check your history, revisionist history excluded.

        January 29, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Ragin Cajun

      You don't get what being American is. What makes us unique is that we are NOT a tribe or ethnic group. America is an idea, not a species. Just as democracy can look rather ugly at times, then so does America. But in the end the idea always prevails.

      January 28, 2013 at 11:30 pm | Reply
    • polaroidselnadalal

      The founding fathers were pagans, astrologists, and non-theists.

      January 30, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Reply
      • sammiegbaker

        Well I do declare! Just which set of history books and writings did you read at school? There is nothing original in this post. At least Z-man admits that we are not quite into the middle of this 10 year of decline. Another four years of the SocialistRadical administration with their State Owned Media such as Zacharis will only ensure the downfall of the greatest country ever on this planet. Then it will be back to jungle warfare.

        January 31, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
      • Brad

        Where in the world did you learn your American history? You must be one of the revisionist history buff's! Saying something over and over doesn't make it true, so stop trying.

        January 31, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • KCMO

      Fareed Zakaria is a plagerist, no respect.

      January 31, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Reply
      • r8it


        January 31, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
  3. JAL

    Damaged core relationships, perhaps beyond repair. That is what we are dealing with. Throwing a party is the only way to move forward on economic growth in new areas while fixing relations. That window is closing. This is the part where the Dr administers the morphine drip.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Reply
  4. Ragin Cajun

    It took me a while to understand this article and then I got it: Zakaria had to file a report so he could claim the trip to Davos as a business expense on his taxes.

    This article is dribble! The 'mood' in Davos, really? And I'm going to make a decision in life based on this? It informs me to act on what? Can't you at least make comments on what people are wearing at Davos so we know what the business set finds fashionable? For those aspiring junior execs out there.

    January 28, 2013 at 11:26 pm | Reply
    • Ragin Cajun

      Also, I like to wear a speedo while eating crawfish...

      January 29, 2013 at 7:09 am | Reply
    • David T. Miller

      I agree with your sentiments, Ragin Cajun. However, the word is "drivel" not "dribble". Best...dtm

      January 30, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Reply
    • Scott

      The real question is who did he plagarize this article from? It's so generic and uninteresting when he doesn't use the original authors work verbatim.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Reply
  5. j. von hettlingen

    With slower growth, people should adopt a more frugal life-style. Here's an example:
    Due to the crisis in Greece, many people are unable to afford heating oil and instead turning to wood to heat their homes. The country is seeing the absolutely worst illegal logging ever and air quality deteriorates. Greece is Siberia. In some households in Europe, people – including me – don't heat their homes. I wear more clothes and feel quite comfortable about it.

    January 29, 2013 at 9:25 am | Reply
    • deniz boro

      Good may still come out of this economic crisis. People may learn to be less careless about the waste they produce and respect nature more.
      Although Turkey is not suffering much from this set back I have just moved to Antalya which is a warmer city and settled in a house with a garden. I intend to plant a kitchen garden and grow my own vegetables WITH ORGANIC METODS. 🙂
      I intend to try to live of the land. It may prove to be both more fun and satisfactory.
      I donot use much heating since it is now 16 degrees C and the water is heated by solar energy.

      January 29, 2013 at 11:15 am | Reply
  6. Rick

    I wonder who Zakaria plagarized this from.

    January 29, 2013 at 11:04 am | Reply
    • Abhi

      So yes... The guy made mistake once... apologized publicly, was punished by his employers... & now has to carry the baggage so that guys like you can bring him down ?? Get a life man ... everyone makes mistakes...

      January 30, 2013 at 1:28 am | Reply
      • Rick

        Zakaria should be fired and never allowed to write anything. He is a pompous a$$ who hates America.

        January 30, 2013 at 11:03 am |
      • deniz boro

        I say disregard the Rick'ity parrots and continue in good productive interaction.

        January 30, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
      • alex

        I wonder who has never cheated in his life? not said a lie to advance his career? I have. let it go Rick; perhaps you dislike him for other reasons and pick on this which is not your real reason.

        January 31, 2013 at 1:00 am |
  7. Heime

    Not sure what the world economy will be doing in the next 10 years, but for the last 12 months my 401(k) has shot up in unrealized gain (aggressive lifestyle fund). Of course, nothing is promised with the stock market, but neither does it appear to be affected directly by a "cautious world economy".

    January 29, 2013 at 11:18 am | Reply
    • Mike K

      The stock market, now that real estate has collapsed, is the only hedge against inflation there is. Expect it to rise until the final debt crisis. Then you had better be invested in gold and ammunition. Both will hold their value.

      January 29, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Reply
      • Miss Demeanor

        What if your 'final debt crisis'/end-of-days nonsense invokes the Apocalypse? Are you and your red-neck, beer-swillin' army of 'highly-trained' texass militia gonna' save us all? What if'n you shoot Jeeeeezus in your final drunken assault?
        You need to know one important detail Clem: no redneck militia stands a chance against trained modern military forces. Didn't think that one through before you 'enlisted'... did ya' Clem?

        January 29, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
      • deniz boro

        Real Estate in Turkey may be trying for a record. The leading industry in the country may be constructors and real estate agents. They just can not build quick enough. I've never seen such a frenzy.

        February 1, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  8. blake

    Duh, of course the economy will grow slowly. $1 trillion in annual overspending. Unsustainable debt levels. Class warfare. Rising taxes. Marxist agenda with the president and half of Congress. Do you get paid for writting this drivel?

    January 29, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Reply
  9. pat

    The fact that Google, and major companies, are sitting on that much cash is a major contributed to the slowing the economic growth.

    January 29, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Reply
  10. POD

    Why is it that the people that cause all the suffering never get to suffer?

    January 29, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Reply
    • Heime

      Who do you imagine are the ones "causing all the suffering"? I always thought that, for the most part, each person has a certain degree of control over their outcome in life.

      January 29, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Reply
    • Grace

      The people who cause the suffering are the idiot policymakers and politicians who pander to the clamoring dependent class. Those being blamed now aren' *causing* the suffering as much as declining to go on *relieving* suffering and providing opportunities for which they have been kicked in the teeth. Atlas is beginning to shrug.

      January 30, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Reply
  11. palintwit

    Wonder how all the baggers feel now that Fake News broomed their moronic air-headed leader Palin. They are probably wandering around their trailer parks like aimless little zombies with no one to give them direction.

    January 29, 2013 at 2:03 pm | Reply
    • Brad

      And this insult filled comment is related to this article how? It seems to me that you should go back to your retransportable home!

      January 31, 2013 at 8:06 pm | Reply
  12. Bill

    Small business in the United States, who produce 2/3rds of the new jobs, are the only ones who are currently paying the 35% business tax rate. Large corporations have built in tax laws, and now contribute a record low in percentage to the national tax revenue. If small business can get a rate break, somewhere around 20%, and large corporations are actually paying what they are supposed to, you would probably see a jump in unemployment. Though the unemployment rate is down almost 3% from its worst, those gains were not made from adding jobs. The only reason the rate is down is due to people completely leaving the job market. Labor participation rate is the lowest in 50 years. The problem is Obama believes we can improve the economy buy helping the public sector, as if there is money to hire anyone. The reason government jobs are disappearing is because counties, states, and the fed can no longer afford them. Obama is delusional when it comes to the realiities behind the economy if he believes he can increase the economy by spending. This kind of policy is why the growth will be so low in the next decade.

    January 29, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Reply
  13. John Deatherage

    End the Fed's dual mandate of controlling inflation and producing full employment. The Fed chases full employment by keeping interest rates artificially low which leads to financial bubbles and eventually recessions.

    Let the Fed keep inflation in check. That was their only mandate prior to 1977. Congress made a mistake. It's time to unmake the error.....

    January 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Reply
  14. Marco Hsiao

    [Wonderful next decade: Asia rise but Europe down]

    25 million African black slaves are made by immoral European for selling to America; they get good profit (8 million are tortured to die in Europe's ships). They extinguish Aborigines of Tasmanian in Australia; in reality they destroy culture (nationalism) and want to annihilate all excellent Indian for stable rule. 5 million good Indian dies by strategic famine. Fareed's ancestors almost died completely; because they need some slaves.

    They also consider genocide all Kenyan; then Kenya could be a paradise of rhinos and Giraffes. Obama's grandfather is bullied seriously by immoral British in Kenya's jail. Europe's fortune is from evilest exploitation on Africa and Indian peninsula. But real history is distorted; apology and compensation both have not done.

    Real history should be the base for future forecast. "Immoral barbarian world" will face "A decade of slow growth"; but justice civilized world will brace "A decade of speed growth". After 2019, the world will enter a new page; East Asia will replace Europe as world center for next 500 years. 23 countries surrounding China (Mainland + ROC Taiwan + Hong Kong + Macau) are also moving to prosperity; for example Russia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. The earth is changing to enter a great and glorious era.

    January 29, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Reply
  15. Marco Hsiao

    [Kill and bankrupt]

    The US murders 100,000 innocent Iraqis and is providing weapons to murder 100,000 innocent Syrian for promote the US military budget (to bankrupt the US treasury). Thus after the US Federal debt exceeds 20 trillion – the US will decline, too.

    January 29, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Reply
  16. DC

    Almost as bad as Zakaria's decade of plagiarism

    January 30, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Reply
  17. polaroidselnadalal

    So many business and economics experts.

    You guys should teach at major universities!

    January 30, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Reply
  18. Leftcoastrocky

    The growth in recent decades was a false growth and was based on faulty real estate appreciation, postponement of infrastructure expenses and unfunded retirement benefits.

    January 30, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Reply
  19. Leftcoastrocky

    If we go into an austerity budget now we will suffer a Second Great Recession, which will make the debt/deficit even worse.

    January 30, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Reply
  20. Sandeep Singh

    US is gone now. More interested in Mangi Teo and what Michelle is wearing than anything substantive or real. I don't even want to live anymore.

    January 30, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Reply
  21. deniz boro

    In hard times people fall back to cash money and gold. They naturally go up. What do you think decides on the value of cash or gold? When water or wheat is more rare? You can not eat gold as the Frigian King proved. At least share certiificates are printed on paper which is a cellulose material ...so are paper money.
    If the world can not produce calories in an eficient manner – no matter how the wheather behaves- you might as well end up eating the central bank reserves.

    January 30, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Reply
  22. Carlos Gonzalez

    Only ten years? Look again. As long as we continue to imitate and collaborate with central banks world wide in the name of the "global economy" we are looking at a lot longer than that. Obama, Geitner, and Bernacke sacrificed the economic power of the American middle class so that China could grow their middle class and Brazil could drill for more oil and gas. We need to take a huge step back from the golbal economy and profit from it, not suppor tthe profit taking of others,

    January 31, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Reply
  23. Jeff

    Fareed is correct in his assesment. But, why is he commenting on this topic, he's never taken a course in economics, I have, many.


    January 31, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Reply
  24. zed

    a decade? I'm so sorry fareed, What's obvious to me is what I have been fearing about this country for some time now: that all the disorders of our time would prompt a campaign to defend the status quo at all costs and to sustain the unsustainable.We see the comforts and conveniences of modernity slipping away and we'll do anything to try to hang onto them, including lying to ourselves to such an immersive degree about what is really happening, things would go a whole lot better for us if we acknowledge what is actually going on, namely: a major shift of direction into economic contraction after 200-plus thrilling years of expanding energy resources and easy-to-get material riches. we will never again "grow". think there will be 8 or 9 billion people on this planet in 50 years? how about less than 1 billion.

    January 31, 2013 at 10:09 pm | Reply
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