By Dennis K. Berman
Here’s the scary part about Davos: You schlep to this Swiss redoubt expecting to meet a secret colony of people in the know. But turns out they don’t know either. Which is in fact why they’re here, too — to find and interrogate people who do.
This collective “pinging” feels more akin to a high-frequency trading platform than a seminar devoted to improving the state of the world. The cocktail parties are no more than lubricated information markets, where each node is trying to calibrate itself based on information transmitted and received. What emerges about Europe, or social media, or green energy is eventually rendered a mushy consensus. This is what they might call in Davos the market-clearing price of a thought.
So, what was the mushy consensus?
“Not optimistic. But Less Pessimstic.”
Imminent crisis averted in the Eurozone, dozens of CEOs in private interviews struck a remarkably similar tone about the world economy. It’s banal if only for the scramble of phrases: Some spoke of the timeless “caution,” others declared themselves “not pessimistic but not optimistic either” and “hesitant.” The only honest position seems to be this: No one has a clue.
“Governments don’t create growth. They create circumstances.”
Perhaps the most provocative quote of the week, from an unnamed CEO. Such antipathy was in wide circulation across the week, as CEOs variously complained about financial overregulation, competing international standards, and European governments’ inability to change labor and safety-net laws. The struggle over corporate tax dollars — particularly in the strapped U.S. and Europe — is only beginning. There just doesn’t seem much trust left between government and business, which does not bode well.
- Robert Teitelman: This Year in Meta-Davos (huffingtonpost.com)
- Davos: Britain faces up to reality as Europe clings to dreams (telegraph.co.uk)
- Davos Money Men Say World Emerges From Doldrums Fretting Relapse – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Word From Davos: PE is Coming Back, Baby (blogs.wsj.com)
- Morgan Stanley On What Actually Happens In Davos (valuewalk.com)
- Davos Wisdom, 2013: Five Lessons from the Global Forum (business.time.com)
- How Sheryl Sandberg rescued gender equality in Davos (macleans.ca)
- India Adda: The Hub of Café Conversations in Davos from IBEF (prweb.com)