The Outsider’s Guide to Davos

Good morning and welcome to the worst week of the year – it’s the annual World Economic Forum in Davos!

If you’re unfamiliar, the World Economic Forum is a gathering of self-appointed Very Important People who make grand pronouncements that are both unfalsifiable in their ambiguity and meaningless in their vague calls to action.

For example: “We must dare to do the impossible” and “Never before has globalization been so globalized.”  The discussions are, in actuality, a competition of who can use the most amount of non-committal platitudes in a single sitting without making the other panelists laugh. There is an immense amount of talent on hand in this regard, everyone here is top-notch at feigning gravitas.

The attendees and speakers are an agglomeration of randy septuagenarians and their “assistants”, celebrity economists, the American and European CEOs of recently bailed-out banks, international arms dealers, would-be trophy wives who can affect various continental accents on demand, Arianna Huffington, Old Media grandees who worship her, and then a whole host of other inheritors of wealth and fur hat aficionados. And it is all covered by a cadre of journalists with tongues so firmly planted in cheek they have to ice down their jawlines each night at the end of the day’s pompous proceedings.

It’s a very interesting paradigm – picture the biggest nerds in your high school going to elaborate lengths to convince everyone else in the cafeteria that they, in fact, are inhabiting the cool kids’ table.  It’s quite brilliant from that standpoint.

And there’s all kinds of other assorted bullshit we can get caught up in if we so choose – who’s sleeping with whom? Who’s brought both a wife and a mistress. Whether it signifies promotion or demotion when someone mentions that they’ve received a yellow badge this year rather than the red and white striped one from 2012, etc.

If I can stress a single thing to you it is this – nothing you hear in the media or read in an article emanating from the World Economic Forum will make any difference to the actual real world of human beings, nor will affect your life in any way. There will be interesting soundbites and mission statement-esque utterances but in the grand scheme of things, this is really a pageant of self-congratulation for those in attendance.

And if they invite me next year I will gladly take all of this back 😉

Anyway, here are the only two things you need to read about Davos before I retire the topic til 2014:

Last year my friend Haley Amber Feinberg, one of the top interns at Business Insider, live-blogged her Davos experience for TRB.  It’s epic:


Also, here’s perennial Davos-ite Andrew Three Names with a DealBook piece about how wildly wrong his fellow revelers tend to be with their predictions:

Prophesies Made in Davos Don’t Always Come True (DealBook)

Take it from Andrew and take it from Haley, any headlines coming from Switzerland this week should be consumed for their unintentional comedic value only.

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