If No One Makes a Sound at Davos, Does it Mean a Tree Didn’t Fall?

This week Finance Monthly heard from Jim Prior, CEO of The Partners, on his take from the World Economic Forum 2017 in Davos, which took place last week.

If you’ve invested the unavoidably large amounts of public or private money required to get to Davos the general rule is that you can’t just sit back with a glass of Kirsch and take in the elite view. You need to be seen to be doing something by those who funded your trip.

The formula for that in recent years has been simple: gaze through the telescope at the real world, identify some problems with it, then loudly and publicly promise to fix them just as soon as you get back home.

However, this year seemed decidedly quieter than before. Fewer predictions, fewer promises. This year’s snow put a hush on Davos and, back in the real world, one might not have noticed that it had happened at all.

This was a year more of frostbite than soundbite. Attendees appeared to be conscious of their failure to fix, or even identify, society’s biggest problems so they stayed silent on them. No-one seemed clear on what story there was to tell, so no real story was told at all.

Even the commentary around the unavoidable subjects of Brexit and Trump was inconclusive. “We failed to predict them and we don’t know what will happen”, was the general summary – leaders seemed unwilling to take responsibility for a future they had not expected to find.

So, on the whole nothing happened at Davos. Which might be fine if nothing had happened in the real world. Which, like Davos, couldn’t be further from the reality in which we live.

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