1

Davos Economic Forum draws powerful and skeptical

People stand in a lobby on January 23, 2013 during the opening of the annual World Economic Forum meeting in the Swiss resort of Davos. As the world's political and business elite gather for the forum, some skeptics question the value of the event.

Big-hitters from the worlds of politics and business have been gathering in the Swiss ski resort of Davos for the annual World Economic Forum. Global leaders like Angela Merkel of Germany and Britain’s David Cameron will mingle with central bankers, regulators and entrepreneurs. They'll spend up to four days gabbing, networking and putting the world to rights. The avowed  aim is “to improve the state of the world.”

In spite of its lofty ideals, however, Davos has its critics: some analysts and journalists who see this annual jamboree as pointless.

Louise Cooper, boss of the financial consulting firm CooperCity, takes exception to this year’s official mantra or motto at Davos:  “Resilient Dynamism.” The forum organizers say that this is what will be required to pull the global economy out of its current malaise. But Louise is baffled.

“What on earth is resilient dynamism? I’ve no idea!” she laughs. “It’s typical management speak!”

And Cooper is equally dismissive of the whole event.

“Davos is a big, all-singing, all-dancing media extravaganza,” she says. "A lot of people get their egos massaged by being interviewed 50 times a day by journalists.”

Ruth Lea, economic adviser to the Arbuthnot Bank, is another Davos skeptic.

“It’s not these talk sessions that deliver the goods,” says Lea. “We need governments to take action to promote growth. We cannot depend on a talking shop.”

Professor Philip Booth of the free market Institute of Economic Affairs is also scathing about Davos. He calls it: “an opportunity for grandstanding by politicians and the leaders of big business.” Booth claims that the forum does not even serve as a pointer to the year ahead; it failed to spot the problems that led to last financial crisis.

But isn’t this just sour grapes? None of the skeptics has been to Davos. None of them has been invited.

“I wouldn’t go,” retorts Booth. "I’d find it insufferable.”

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.
Log in to post1 Comment
With Generous Support From...