Every year around this time business and political leaders from around the globe pack up their suits -- and their skis -- and head to the Swiss ski resort town of Davos for the annual World Economic Forum, which convenes today. And this year, like every year, those of us left behind are asking the same question: does it really matter?
Tom Keene, editor-at-large at Bloomberg News and host of Bloomberg Suveillance, assures us that it doesn't.
Among the horde of journalists covering the Davos pomp and circumstance, Keene reports: "It's backward looking ... it's pretentious, there's eager-looking CEOs looking for wisdom, and ... all the things that people make jokes about."
At the same time, Keene says:"There are also moments where there are very ... important conversations. To give you an idea, leading CEO of you-name-the-company can come here and have 25 or 30 meetings over four days with all their different clients. You can't do that anywhere else in the world."
So what are people actually talking about in all of those important meetings this year?
Keene says people are interested in what's going on in Washington. "It's a very important question because so much of our debt is bought and sold and hopefully kept by foregieners," he notes. "If anything, there's more awareness of the fiscal challenges in the United States in Asia and around the world than there is in the United States."
"The singular difference," says Keene, is that the financial system and markets "indicates a healing and a better financial economy. The banks will step lighter this year."
And in the snowy streets of Davos, that's going to be good news.