From the outside, Davos doesn’t change much. Political and business leaders from around the world have again descended on this beautiful Swiss ski town for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. On the inside, however, each meeting has its own preoccupations and agenda items. Here are five numbers that underscore what’s new — and what remains the same:
1,700 private jets
This week, an estimated 1,700 private jets arrived in Davos, double the traffic in an average week. Available landing spots were scarce. For the first time, the Swiss Armed Forces opened a military air base to help manage the overflow. But this year, the cost won’t burn (quite) as badly: The spot price of jet fuel has fallen 50% in the past five months.
60 billion euros a month
On Thursday morning, Angela Merkel addressed the World Economic Forum, stressing that Germany “want[s] to remain a stable anchor for Europe.” She was upstaged by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, speaking from Frankfurt at the same time. He announced a larger-than-expected and open-ended quantitative easing program of 60 billion euros ($70 billion) a month. In response to his speech, borrowing costs in Germany, Spain, Italy, Ireland, and Portugal fell to record lows.
9,000 Russian troops
Davos has never seen so many Ukrainians attend the conference, but they’re not there to celebrate their country’s success. Russia’s incursion pushed Ukraine’s GDP down nearly 10% in 2014, and industrial output fell almost 11%. The hryvnia has lost half its pre-war value and was last year’s worst-performing currency—unless you count Bitcoin. After Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Ukraine is 10,000 square miles smaller—and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko claims that 7% of his country’s territory is effectively occupied. Nor did Poroshenko have much time to enjoy the Davos view: He left early to deal with a surge in fighting around Donetsk. Ukraine’s president also says that 9,000 Russian troops have crossed the border.
0 Voldemort references
At Davos last year, conflict between China and Japan was talk of the town. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying described the China-Japan relationship as “at its worst.” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe compared China-Japan to Britain-Germany on the cusp of World War I. Leaders on both sides likened the other country to Harry Potter villain “Voldemort.”
This year, though only 7% of Japanese and 8% of Chinese hold a favorable view of the other country according to recent polls, Xi and Abe are working to keep tensions in check. They’ll never be buddies, but both are leading domestic reform drives that require better relations between the world’s second and third largest economies.
67% of guestlist drawn from two continents
According to a new report from Oxfam, the world’s richest 1% own 48% of the world’s wealth—and will have captured more than half within two years. As many of these elites descend on Davos, the geographic makeup of the guest list is also unbalanced. North America and Europe account for 67% of Davos 2015 attendees, even though these continents are home to less than one-fifth of the global population. That said, Europe and North America still account for some 60% of the world’s GDP.
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