Blame Davos?

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Felix Salmon pens an amusing, yet depressing, Davos diatribe:

It’s not like CEOs and billionaires (and billionaire CEOs) need any more flattery and ego-stroking than they get on a daily basis, but Davos gives them more than that: it allows them to flatter and ego-stroke each other, in public. They invariably leave even more puffed-up and sure of themselves than when they arrived, when in hindsight what the world really needed was for these men (it’s still very much a boys’ club) to be shaken out of their complacency and to ask themselves some tough questions about whether in fact they were leading us off a precipice.

Now that it’s clear that many of them were leading us off that cliff, there’s still no sign of contrition, although you can be sure that a few fingers will be pointed at various past attendees who aren’t here to defend themselves. Is anybody here seriously examining the idea that Davos was institutionally responsible, at least in part, for the economic and financial catastrophe which befell the world in 2008? I’ll be on the lookout for that over the next few days. But I suspect that the preening potentates will be far too busy giving themselves the job of rebuilding the world to stop and ask where they went wrong in building the last one, and whether they might actually owe the rest of us a large collective apology.

A recurring, and worrying, theme of the post-crisis economy is the lack of remorse on behalf of those who were responsible for the crisis. Just as CDOs and SIVs were supposed to make the risks associated with sub-prime mortgages magically disappear, is Davos a means for the private sector to erase the demons of the past and push forward a business-as-usual agenda?

If you'd like to follow Davos from a non-billionaire CEO's perspective, Rachel Kyte, VP of IFC Business Advisory Services and occasional PSD contributer, will be Tweeting from the forum. IFC will focus its Davos energies on resource industries, the aftermath of Copenhagen, and gender issues.

On the other hand, if you're looking to follow along from a Wall Street's point of view, Salmon has provided an excellent picture of Bloomberg's Davos command center:


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