The focus and goals of Davos

Jeremy Hobson Jan 26, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: And if you’re looking for the world’s bankers, CEOs and economists this morning, you’ll find them in Davos, Switzerland. They’re gathered there for the World Economic Forum, which is basically a giant brainstorming session for people with enough money to do big things.

Tom Keene of Bloomberg TV is there covering the forum, and he joins us now. Good morning.

Tom Keene: Good morning, Jeremy.

Hobson: Well, you’ve been talking with some of the big players over there at Davos. What have they been saying about the economy this year?

Keene: Without question, yesterday’s theme — the first day of this session — was about austerity in Europe, and the mystery of how to combine austerity with economic growth. There’s just no other topic, Jeremy. I’ll be honest — I don’t hear many constructive answers.

Hobson: And you’re talking about austerity versus growth in Europe. Are the people from the United States who are at Davos paying close attention to that?

Keene: They’re paying very close attention to it — particularly the bankers that are here. But I would say — and it’s a very good point you make — there is a disassociation this year of the challenges of the United States from Europe. There’s a very good feeling here that, for the most part, the United States has got it right.

Hobson: Let me ask you this now: does Davos really matter, or is it just an excuse for the rich and the powerful to get together and have some hot chocolate in the snowy mountains?

Keene: The chocolate’s very good; and record snowfall, I can say that. The answer is both stereotypes are accurate. It is a playground; it is the one percent. But with that said, the biggest change in three years is the CEOs that come here, they go 15 hours a day. Jeremy, they’re not into touchy-feely panels on you know, “green” this in Antarctica. They’re meeting their customers, and they’re competitors — that’s what they do when they’re here. That changed about three years ago.

Hobson: Tom Keene, host of Surveillance Midday on Bloomberg TV joining us from Davos, Switzerland. Tom Keene, thanks so much.

Keene: Great to be with you.

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