As global executives and policymakers arrived in Davos, Switzerland, for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, the portents seem to be good. The global economy continues to chug along, propelled by growth in emerging markets. The Europeans appear to have averted a break up of the euro and regained a measure of market confidence. There are even signs that sanity may be returning to the U.S. political system following this week’s decision by Republican leaders not to threaten a showdown over the debt ceiling.

If things are looking up, though, someone forgot to tell the Davos attendees. The global movers and shakers streamed into the Alpine resort in an uncertain and apprehensive mood. It was not quite like the dark days of 2009, when Davos played host as bankers and finance officials sought to stitch the global financial system back together, but it was no glad confident morning either.

A lack of global leadership lies at the heart of much of the nervousness. The Forum’s Global Agenda Council set the tone Tuesday by issuing a report warning of a growing list of threats, including worsening relations between China and Japan, the continued implosion of Syria and its destabilizing effect on the wider Middle East, and the risk of rising nationalism among Europeans weary of austerity. Council chairman Ian Bremmer, the president of the political consultancy Eurasia Group, who has coined the term G-0 to describe the apparent breakdown of global coordination, said an “eroding legitimacy of elites” is making the world a riskier place.

“Whether one looks at the dismal approval ratings of the U.S. Congress or the impact that more open flows of information is having on the Chinese ruling elite, it is clear that people are becoming more and more uninspired by their governments,” the Global Agenda Council said in its report. “When it comes to unemployment, the widening disparity of wealth or environmental degradation, highly complex or even intractable issues set politicians up for failure in the eyes of their constituents.”

A lack of coordination is especially evident in economic policy, said Charles Dallara, managing director of the Institute of International Finance (IIF), an industry lobby group. The Federal Reserve Board continues to pursue its quantitative easing policies in a bid to jump-start the U.S. economy, irrespective of complaints from emerging-markets countries about the destabilizing impact of a world awash in dollars. The Europeans and now the Japanese, after Tuesday’s new easing move, are similarly focused single-mindedly on their domestic difficulties.