Relishing his nickname of "middle-class Joe", he told delegates
at the World Economic Forum annual meeting that the middle
classes, the backbone of economies and democracies, now faced
unprecedented threats from technological change.
"My call to action here is simple - embrace your obligation to
workers as well as your shareholders," Biden said, criticizing
the recent trend by firms to return mountains of cash to
investors by buying back stock rather than investing for the
Many of the world's wealthiest and most powerful people are
gathered in the Swiss Alps this week to discuss business and the
wider state of the world, against a backdrop of tumbling stock
markets and increased geopolitical tensions.
Those market ructions are dominating many conversations,
although the challenges and opportunities of the so-called
fourth industrial revolution - an umbrella term for robotics,
artificial intelligence and hyperconnectivity - remain the
official topic of this year's meeting.
Many experts fear the next wave of innovations will destroy
millions of jobs, hollowing out middle-income employment across
manufacturing and the service sectors, even as new highly
skilled computing jobs are created.
That, Biden said, represented a major threat to all members of
"When the middle class does well, the wealthy do very well, and
the poor have a ladder up," he said.
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Alexander Smith)
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.