In Davos, Confusion Commensurate with Conditions

By January 28, 2009Economy, Labor Unions

The World Economic Forum is now under way in Davos, in der Schweiz, and Business Week editor Diane Brady provides a succinct report on attitudes and priorities. From Marketplace Morning Report:

Diane Brady: I think the general mood is a real sense of confusion. There’s a sense that there’s going to be unprecedented government intervention in the next year, and so there’s more CEOs and chairpersons than ever in the history of Davos. There’s also more world leaders here, so I think you’re dealing with people whose industries have collapsed in a way that they’ve never seen, and they’re trying to figure out what will get the world out of this, nevermind their own companies.

Jagow: Well, a record number of world leaders there, but one glaring omission, and that is that President Obama and his people aren’t there. What’s the response to that?

Brady: In fact, it was commented on last night. In many ways, the timing of the Obama administration coming in has not been ideal. Valerie Jarrett, who’s one of his senior advisors, is coming on Thursday. But in a year when the Chinese premiere, the German chancellor, even Vladimir Putin is here, the fact that you really don’t have much of a presence from Washington is disappointing I think to a lot of people.

No doubt, but can you imagine the political heat the President would have gotten if he’d flown to Davos?

Jay Nordlinger of National Review is again attending Davos and will be writing a daily journal from the scene, there. He’s always good. In his Davos Journal, Part I, he notes this, reported in MarketWatch:

“This is not just another Davos,” said Andy Stern . . .

A regular foe of private-equity firms and an advocate of tougher regulation of businesses and markets, Stern will make his first trek to the mountain resort for the annual gathering. Stern said he hopes the current economic turmoil will result in a “humbling and mind-opening moment” for many of the forum’s regular attendees.

“These experts have failed the citizens of the globe. They have wrought economic havoc with financial manipulation, greed and deregulation,” he said, in a telephone interview. “I don’t know if it will do any good, but there is a need for straight talk and ending the backslapping, self-congratulatory noblesse-oblige attitude that I think has been more prevalent in the past.”

Andy Stern in Davos? Funny. Maybe he’s negotiating with one of these national leaders, arranging sanctuary abroad for Governor Blagojevich.

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