Davos 2010: New Year, Same Mission (Saving the World)

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Davos 2010

The 40th World Economic Forum kicked off in Davos today, with a modest agenda to "Improve the State of the World: Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild."

As Spiegel‘s Anne Seith notes, Klaus Schwab, the forum’s German founder, has always been decidedly ambitious and has by all accounts been successful as a gathering (although not so much at saving the world).

The economist first invited top managers to the luxury ski resort for an exchange of views in 1971. That year, some 444 guests came. Davos has since grown into a mega-meeting of the world’s political, business and science elites. Thousands of police and snipers have cordoned off the town and private jets crowd the little airfields dotted around the valley.

BBC’s Evan Davis is still amused, having made his fourth trip to the meeting, at the ridiculous lengths one has to go through merely to get there — "a plane to Zurich, followed by a three hour train journey into the Swiss mountains (on three different trains, each smaller than the one before)" — and by the fact that Davos in January is so cold that "everyone is forced to wear big boots and bulky coats that make them look like the Michelin man. The event thus strips the most portentous people of their dignity."

Apparently, whoever’s packing the conference kits thought that wasn’t enough.  The Telegraph‘s Jeremy Warner reports that all participants "have been issued with a bottle of sanitizing gel." He hypothesizes, "Presumably this is for use after shaking hands with a banker, though the organizers don’t explain."

James Joyner is managing editor of the Atlantic Council. AP Photo.