Well the cream of capitalism has had its week of wonders at the dreamlike fantasia of the Davos resort in Switzerland. One might even be forgiven for thinking that the whiteness of the snow was designed to cleanse the dirty image of a grubby economic system that has gone out of control.
The Davos conference is now billed as a veritable ‘who’s who’ of senior business managers, captain’s of industry, bankers and government representatives and their various hanger’s on; all puffed up with their egotistical self-importance and their ‘save the world’ arrogance.
Yet in tangible terms what does all this high-roller back-slapping actually mean for the man on the street?
Well, not a lot quite frankly.
The problem you see is simple, it is a mezze of delights intended to tempt and enchant and give a flavour of the next ‘big thing’. It is not a serious strategy forum like the G20 or G8 summits. Many bankers simply stayed away.
Fundamentally, such highly expensive and exclusive conferences are out of touch with the practicalities of the real-world. For example, last year we had lots of references to the law firms behind globalisation strategy. While this makes sense from an international legal perspective, it plainly doesn’t apply as a ‘one-size-fit’s-all’ solution for the SME business community; and therein lies the rub. Davos is not representative it is exclusive.
Politicians have increasingly seen this as a way of getting access to key players in the private sector; influencing and shaping their direction according to their own warped visions of a future in political Nirvana. At Davos they might lobby senior bankers for more charitable contribution or benign funding, in return bankers might lobby politicians for more acceptable tax regime and lure them with promises of future growth and prosperity but it is no more than a showy ball-room dance of speed-dating ‘excuse me’s’ with a range of partners. It is a sampling of ideas with not strategic direction or emphasis on conclusion. One wonders if it might be more constructive to lock them all in a draughty aircraft hangar for a week and see what gets done, on the basis the sooner it is concluded, the sooner they can leave.
When you put together a set of toxic bankers with a set of toxic business managers and generally toxic government representatives, what you end up with is the world’s biggest rotten apple.
If most of those present are in the world’s top 1% of society they are only really going to solve the world’s problems one way and that is their own way.
Deals will be done, words exchanged. A nod or a wink of assurance made but in the end it simply preserves the status quo and does nothing to promote creative reform and the necessary solutions to key problems.
Only M. Sarkozy went off message and then he only managed to address a small part of the economic problem we all face, because even he is not prepared to step back and see the systemic structural faults of a failed economic system. For the bankers and economists of course, it is not in their interest to see it.
David Cameron, by all accounts made himself at home as the next British Prime Minister in waiting with a full team in tow. Clearly the scripted hand over is continuing as planned, despite some serious questions over his credibility.
So why will Davos never solve anything?
Simply because of the ‘exclusive’ nature of the affair and that those present are only seeing things from inside their own artificial bubble, that’s why.
And quite possibly because they are running out of ideas.