Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Davos Update: Nobody Knows

Foreign Policy's Clyde Prestowitz should take his shirt off. He is clearly of one mind with those lovely Ukrainian protesters at Davos. He begins,

As it always does this time of year, my inbox is filling up with messages of a certain kind. They all begin with: "I'm here in Davos" and then, in an intellectual form of name dropping, proceed to mention key words and phrases such as Geopolitical Risk, G-Zero World, and Rise of Regions. This, of course, sounds really heavyweight and important. But I am not fooled. Nobody knows what those words mean.

Upon reflection, he's not really of one mind with the ladies from Femen. They are protesting because they believe that the global elites gathered at the World Economic Forum do in fact control the world, and have brought it to the present crisis. Prestowitz, on the other hand, protests that they do not; for him, the whole thing is a self-deluding sham. He points out how these supposedly agenda-setting financial wizards failed to perceive the 1997 Asian crisis, the 2008 American crisis, or the 2010 European crisis.

His funniest bit of derision is this:
You have to hand it to Klaus Schwab, the founder and CEO of the Forum. He's the greatest showman since P.T. Barnum. Short, bald, and unimposing, he is what you envision when someone says "gnome of Zurich." Yet, despite his anti-charisma, Schwab has managed to persuade a large number of the world's top CEOs, politicians, academics, media stars, and bureaucrats that they have to be in a cramped, second rate hotel in a cold Swiss village with mediocre skiing and food every year during the bridge weekend between January and February. Indeed, he has not only convinced these people that they have to be there, he has them begging him for invitations and prime spots on the program.
More to the point, Prestowitz argues that the WEF is founded upon a delusion, and that in fact Davos-style globalization "doesn't work under today's circumstances," pretends to be a win-win propostion but isn't, and may not even be "sustainable." he concludes with this blanket condemnation:
Anyone interested in knowing what's really happening or in changing the way things are doesn't go to Davos.
Fine, Clyde. But why is your shirt still on?

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