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Life in goldfish bowl

Goldfish (Keystone)



The shutters are coming down on the 44th annual World Economic Forum summit in Davos and it is hard to shrug off the strange feeling of watching the global elite talk about the world’s most pressing issues inside a goldfish bowl.

The Congress Centre appears hermetically sealed from the outside world, in good part by necessary security measures. Once past the airport-style checks, the forum then resembles the Titanic – a series of watertight compartments.

Delegates and journalists are categorised with typical Swiss efficiency and afforded access to various rooms in the party house according to rank.

While the range and depth of expertise in speakers is indeed impressive, not all seem terribly connected to the man or woman on the street. “The challenge of a Davos session is having to think both extemporaneously and epigrammatically,” one debate began.

More than one session needed reminding by a more ‘exotically’ located panelist that the world was not just about the United States and Europe.

WEF 2014 produced some moments of dash and controversy (Japanese PM Shinzo Abe doing his best to stir up bad blood with China), but without the dramatic feeling of panic evident in the previous few years – a good thing really.

An oft-repeated analogy in Davos likened the financial crisis and subsequent economic turbulence to an enormous fire. The ‘firefighters’ (governments and central banks on the whole) had extinguished the flames, but the gutted house now needs rebuilding.

Perhaps Davos 2015 will be the year of the insurance claims.


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