Davos survey shows people place trust in companies over governments

The annual World Economic Forum is underway in Davos, Switzerland.

It is the yearly gathering of world leaders chief executives, economists, heads of state and celebrities to discuss policy and economic concerns.

This year’s meeting takes place amid anxiety over the U.S.-China trade war, Brexit and a slowdown in global growth.

One theme that has emerged is a mood of uncertainty and pessimism.

People around the world place much more trust in their companies than their political leaders, according to a major survey.

The annual Edelman Trust Barometer shows only one in five people believe the economic, political and social system is working for them, while nearly 60 percent think trade conflicts are hurting their companies and putting their jobs at risk.

The sense of gloom is strongest in developed markets led by Japan, where 84 percent of the general public, do not believe they will be better off in five years' time, followed by France, Germany and Britain.

Optimism was higher in the United States, where nearly half of the general public believed they would be better off in the next five years. The corresponding figure there was 62 percent for the better-educated, higher-earning “informed public."

The pessimism in Japan, France, Germany and Britain reflects a variety of factors.

Signs of slowing global demand and a sharp rise in the yen have clouded the outlook for Japan's export-reliant economy, and the government plans tax hikes to pay for ballooning healthcare costs for its rapidly aging population.

In France, the grassroots rebellion by low-paid workers to protest taxes on diesel fuel has become an assault on President Emmanuel Macron and his reforms, seen by the protesters as favoring the wealthy.


And in Britain, the Brexit crisis intensified last week after Prime Minister Theresa May’s two-year attempt to forge an amicable divorce from the European Union was crushed by parliament.

The survey is  based on the opinions of over 33,000 people and conducted between Oct. 19 and Nov. 16, is published on the eve of the Davos gathering.