Well, Bill Gates did get some public attention and additional money for the ongoing global campaign to eradicate polio while hanging out with the rich and powerful at the Swiss ski resort.
Among the other issues discussed by members of the global elite who gathered at the World Economic Forum this year, some pondered the connections between wealth and happiness, finance ministers promised to stabilize the euro, a writer for Forbes attending the invite-only affair complained about being excluded from the inner-inner circle and the Economist’s Matthew Bishop’s described playing at being an oppressed refugee. Said Bishop:
“The activity was worthwhile, stimulating serious conversations about how to address a serious problem.”
At first, I read that as “simulating” a serious conversation since Bishop made no mention of perhaps the world’s most serious problem — the turmoil rocking Egypt and much of the Arab world.
The unrest in Tunisia, Egypt and throughout the Arab world is as much about the global economic situation as it is about freedom, democracy and politics. And instability in the Middle East (i.e., oil) is certainly of world economic concern.
Even the business publication Investors Daily had to ask “Is Davos relevant?” answering its own question:
As January turns to February Davos men and women, true to the elite vision, are listening to each other expound on what (WEF founder Klaus) Schwab calls “Shared Norms for the New Reality,” an unmistakable reference to the economic downturn….
But in the streets of Cairo, Sanaa and elsewhere in the Middle East, history is being shaped not by Davos Man, but by his near-antithesis.
There are some who think Davos is worse than irrelevant. Economic strategist Umair Haque, writing in the Harvard Business Review, lists Ten Things You’re Not Allowed to Say About Davos. Such as:
The most powerful and influential folks at Davos — the titans of the global economy — probably won’t do anything to heal the world, for the simple reason that because, as things stand, they profit most from its suffering.