Davos on my mind:catching chill

I am in Washington D.C. to speak at a World Bank conference. My first session is over and it is snowing here. I am told it is snowing heavily in Davos and people are develping cold feet and frost bite. In the good old days WEF used to be an event dominated by the private sector which lectured the government on the benefits of the free markets. This time the shoe is on the other foot.The government leaders are speaking and the CEOs are working to improve their skills in listening and in patience.And how yesterday's mighties have fallen today.

Set out below is a heart-rending report from the FT. But do not lose your corazon.I saw a Southern Comfort ad where a barman in Miami comes agitated saying: Last orders, last orders the hurricane is coming. Then he comes back and announces the hurricane is over-pause then grins and says"But it is still rainin". Every thing has a positive side Davos is white as an angel and the snowy mountains are lovely. The wine is good, the food better and lots of honest people around.Madoff could not come this time -he sent his apologies.


Chief executives make their Davos excuses

January 27, 2009

Here I am in Davos and where is everyone else?

A lot of chief executives have signed up for the World Economic Forum but seem to be getting cold feet, so to speak, at the last minute. Today, we learned that Bob Diamond, president of Barclays, will not attend after all.

Mr Diamond joins a number of investment banks in heavily slimming down their presence here. Goldman has cancelled its usual party and Lloyd Blankfein, its chairman and chief executive, is staying at home.

Meanwhile, I have turned up for PwC’s annual press conference at the Belvedere hotel to discuss its survey of CEO confidence (yes, it is very low this year). But Sam DiPiazza, PwC’s global CEO, who usually presides over the event, is nowhere to be seen.

The PwC partners who took his place for the event just explained that he is in India on business and hopes to arrive in Davos by the end of the week.

It does make sense that bankers, who face intense pressure on their share prices and liquidity, do not feel they can spare the time at the moment.

They are probably also afraid of the curse of Davos - that any CEO whose business is under pressure risks looking like he or she is swanning around by spending time up a Swiss mountain discussing the environment etc.

It is not just investors or the general public who might be irritated this year - the governments and regulators that have put money into banks will probably want to see executives buckling down in the office.

I wonder who else among business leaders will drop out as the week goes on? It is snowing, by the way, and the mountains look beautiful.

January 27th, 2009 in Davos09 | Permalink