IMF chief Lagarde said the "very fragile and timid recovery" depends on leaders in the 17-nation eurozone, the United States and Japan making "the right decisions." The eurozone in particular "is fragile because it is prone to political crisis" and slow decision-making, she said.
Davos participants' uneasiness about the world economy was matched by growing concern over the political turmoil in the Arab world, terrorism in North Africa, a spate of natural disasters that have highlighted the failure to tackle climate change, and the growing inequality between the world's "haves" and "have nots."
"Two years ago, gloom around the stalled economic recovery was leavened by euphoria at the outbreak of the Arab spring," Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, told The Associated Press at Saturday night's low-key final reception. "This year, relief at the improved economic outlook is tempered by despair at the unimpeded slaughter in Syria, uncertainty about the outlook in Egypt, and frustration over the Arab monarchies' resistance to reform."
The Arab Spring uprisings have ousted dictators in Tunisia, Yemen, Libya and Egypt over the past two years. But now Islamists and liberals are wrangling over power, with Islamists mainly gaining the upper hand. Democracy is far from certain, and economic woes have left hundreds of thousands of young people jobless and frustrated that their "revolutions" haven't produced any dividends.Former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, a losing candidate in Egypt's presidential election last year, said there have been achievements, but warned that democracy isn't only about casting a vote. "It is the respect of human rights, for rights of women, separation of powers, independence of the judiciary. This meaning of democracy we have not yet achieved," Moussa said. Elsewhere in the Middle East, Israeli-Palestinian peace talks remain stalled, Arab monarchs remain entrenched, and the death toll from the escalating civil war in Syria has topped 60,000 with no end in sight.