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What they’re really doing in Davos

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Steve Chiotakis: We’re keeping an eye on what’s happening in Switzerland. The gathering is massive — financial, political, even cultural icons are there for the World Economic Forum in Davos. Marketplace’s Stephen Beard is there as part of our special coverage of the preceedings as they get underway, he joins us live right now. Hello Stephen!

Stephen Beard: Hello Steve, from Davos!

Chiotakis: What is the significance of this meeting?

Beard: Well, it is a key event in the economic calendar. Not because major decisions are made here, but because major decision-makers are here getting to know each other and getting to thrash out the problems facing the global economy.

Chiotakis: So let’s talk about those decision-makers. Who are some of these people attending?

Beard: It’s a pretty high-powered group — presidents, prime ministers and CEOs from around 90 countries. President Sarkozy of France, for example, Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch are here, and a lot of heavy hitters from China, India and other emerging countries.

Chiotakis: And what are they talking about? What are the issues that they’re focusing on today?

Beard: Well sadly, the catastrophe in Haiti will certainly be discussed, but the main focus is economic and financial reform. How do we avoid another economic crisis? One fascinating thing to watch though, Steve, the bankers — they largely stayed away from Davos last year at the height of the crisis. This year they’re back in force, and we’re told will be lobbying the government, the governments represented here, not to follow the U.S. example and crack down on the banks. Now that doesn’t seem to fit with the ideals of Davos, but then Davos has always been this sort of rather uneasy mix of lofty aims and hard-nosed business.

Chiotakis: Stephen Beard, joining us from Davos. Stephen, stay warm.

Beard: OK, Steve.

Chiotakis: Later today, our special coverage of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos continues on Marketplace. Host Kai Ryssdal talks to the founder of the Carlyle Group, David Rubenstein, about the the New Normal for Global Growth.

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