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Welcome to Known Unknowns, a newsletter written by a quirky former outsider (she is obsessed with pension accounting and learned risk pricing in Nevada brothels after all), who is now officially a member of the global elite.
A few weeks ago, I got a surprise invite to the World Economic Forum. I am not sure what surprised me more: the invite, or how genuinely excited I was to go. And I don’t care what anyone says on Twitter or in dark corners of the Internet, the Davos is a lot of fun as well as quite useful and productive. You do get a sense of where business leaders and policymakers see the economy going, and I am told many important deals are made there. There is also an intricate hierarchy there that merits academic study.
Lots of people said the mood was gloomy; others said it was upbeat. I don’t have much to compare it with, but I did notice that many people wanted to talk about one issue: labor (note the mountain background—I feel like such a baller). Their employees don’t want to go back to the office, people don’t want to work more than the bare minimum, and it is extremely hard to find good people to hire. Now, for as long as there have been workers, bosses have complained that young people are lazy and entitled—probably because adapting to work life is always hard. But this sounded different: it seems like workplace norms have changed. And it was true in every country. Even a Japanese executive at a large company told me he has trouble retaining and motivating talent—and traditionally, Japanese workers stay in their jobs for a very long time.