No Bono, no Angelina. Fancy banker parties cancelled. Davos is set to be a sober, star-lite affair. But Nouriel Roubini and Julia Allison will attend. Is there a better indicator of the Great Recession?
The Forum has the world's elite meet and greet at the Swiss resort town of Davos every year. And every year, organizers pretend that it's a serious event for serious bankers to talk about serious economics. This year, the pretense is more serious than ever.
The evidence in their favor: Goldman Sachs has nixed its party, and John Thain, the ousted Merrill chief, will no longer host a Friday breakfast. The evidence against: The conquerors of Wall Street, like JPMorgan Chase and Barclays, will still host fizzy bashes.
The very theme of the event is denial. Klaus Schwab, the event's founder, has a neat semantic dodge for avoiding talk of current economic woes: He's entitled the event "Shaping the Post-Crisis World." Yes, we'd all rather think about when the unpleasantness will be over.
No chance of that with Roubini around. He will ruin Schwab's plan two different ways. The New York University economist made his bones by predicting the mortgage meltdown and the ensuing recession. He will surely not want to softpedal his doom-mongering for airy talk of the future. But at home in Manhattan, he's better known for the louche soirées he throws for young women in his vulva-studded TriBeCa loft. (Which, by the way, we applaud!) Roubini embodies the true spirit of Davos: wild partying in the face of the world's doom.
And once he's joined by Allison, the globetrotting stalker of married Internet executives, we must all dress up for the apocalypse.
(Photoillustration by Richard Blakeley)