Davos brain trust struggles with baffling buzzwords
The motto might be baffling, but attendees are finding hope in unusual places
With a fistful of francs and a bulging bag of business cards, the billionaires have descended on snowy Davos for another go at saving the world.
But this year’s World Economic Forum got off to a stuttering start as attendees, who paid $40,000 a go for a ticket, struggled with this year’s motto – “resilient dynamism”.
Forum organiser Klaus Schwab tried to explain what he meant in his opening remarks, saying the time had come to go beyond the crisis to “look at the future with a constructive optimism”.
“We are global trustees of our common global future and I think the past has shown how, with mounting egoism and mounting nationalism of countries, that our global co-operation mechanism are more disintegrating than integrating,” he said.
Resilient dynamism was one way to stop the rot, he said. Anyone confused by the concept need only summon up the image of this year’s first big-name speaker, IMF chief Christine Lagarde.
The world’s most famous synchronised swimmer since Esther Williams told her Davos audience, drawn largely from the developed world, that they were facing a date with destiny if they didn’t embrace the dynamism of the developing world to create a new global economy.
She urged leaders, bankers and business people to look beyond the nuts and bolts of the current crisis to address of big issues for the world’s next chapter, issues such as accountability and inequality.
The big draw of the day was Italy’s Mario Monti. He said that, for him, “resilient dynamism” meant countries tackling problems that had been staring them in the face for years. For him, the moment of clarity came when he asked the Qatari king why he wasn’t investing in Italy.
“His reply was one word: corruption,” said Mr Monti. With a perfectly timed pause, he continued: “I was shocked, partly because this wasn’t the king of Norway talking . . .”
Everywhere in the Davos conference centre, participants were hunting for signals that the worst of the global crisis was over.
The canapes have improved, noted one Davos spouse, as had the midday meal of smoked salmon, smoked meats, cheese and even crab.
Another individual was less sure, complaining that the end of the Google party at the Belvedere Hotel – for years the must-attend Davos function – bodes ill for the future of the planet. Others fretted over the absence of Bill Clinton and Bono. But what about this “resilient dynamism”? Actor Charlize Theron thought she put her finger on it when she was given an award on Tuesday night for her work fighting HIV in her native South Africa.
“There is an incredible brain trust in this room,” she said. “I feel like I’m getting smarter just by osmosis.”
Perhaps the best sign that the economic ructions are over for now: the hottest tickets in Davos yesterday were for those with nothing to do with the crisis, such as crime writer Henning Mankell’s talk on the human condition. Fellow writer Paulo Coelho was in equally sombre mood, tweeting: “Davos: either too hot (indoor) or too cold (outside). Like love.”