This is usually the time of year when politicians, big-shot bankers, and top diplomats converge on Davos, Switzerland for the annual World Economic Forum. But like last year, the event is expected to be far more downbeat than in years past when Angelina Jolie turned up to discuss global poverty and Naomi Campbell strutted around the Alpine village in very fashionable après-ski attire. This year the best attendees can look forward to is catching a glimpse of Chinese pianist Lang Lang or self-important director James Cameron. Depressing!
[W]hen this year's meeting gets underway Wednesday, the mood greeting the 2,500 world leaders, corporate executives and central bankers scheduled to attend the annual jamboree will be far more downbeat, as the world still grapples with the fall out of the credit crisis and the economic downturn...
Many of the grandees in attendance – under the watchful eye of thousands of Swiss police – will surely be in a reflective state of mind. Bankers, keen to avoid more flak for their eye-popping bonuses, are keeping their cocktails and dinners deliberately low key as they quietly lobby regulators who are currently mulling tough new rules on financial institutions. Stubbornly high unemployment and sluggish growth are sure to be recurrent talking points for chief executives and world leaders alike on the panels.
As if that's not bad enough, there's the persistent fear of swine flu to contend with, which explains why attendees get a bottle of hand disinfectant in their welcome bags. Then there's Bill "Buzzkill" Clinton to worry about. Even the most "low-key" cocktail party could be interrupted at any moment by the former president, who says he's making the trip Davos to strong-arm the world's richest to provide increased aid to Haiti. As of today, chances are security will be on the mind of many participants, too. The commander of the security force charged with protecting WEC attendees was found dead this morning in an apparent suicide. That certainly doesn't bode well, does it?