Davos hot air. Davos is the highest town in Europe. It holds the World Economic Forum each year, in conjunction with the better known town of Klosters, 10 kilometres away and down the hill. Both have again been invaded by the great, powerful, pretty and verbose, not to mention the popinjays of politics and business, their courtiers and their hangers-on — Fitbits fitted, striding confidently down the icy streets; it was -11 degrees last night and clear. At 5150 feet above sea level according to Google, there’s nowhere for the hot air to go. Davos-Klosters will be emitting at the moment, but up and over the Alps like a warm blanket. Nothing they will say or do until Saturday will have the slightest impact on the harsh reality of the world’s economic and political issues.

John Cassidy, The New Yorker’s gun business and economics writer, had a nice take on Davos in a post this week:

“As the masters of the universe (and many journalists, too) gather for their annual confab in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, the world economy that they will be gazing down upon isn’t looking very healthy. The financial markets are in turmoil. The oil price is in a free fall. China just announced its lowest G.D.P. growth rate in a quarter of a century. The European Union has been in crisis for years. The Middle East . . . enough said. Even the American economy, one of the world’s few bright spots, is showing some signs of slowing down.”

All these points will be covered at Davos, but they were a year ago, and the year before that, like a broken record. — Glenn Dyer

Yakety yak. This year’s talk fest is set around idea of the fourth industrial revolution. But who can remember “The Reshaping of the World” from 2014 or 2012’s “The Great Transformation”? Or what about “Shaping the Post-Crisis World,” from 2009 or “Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild” in 2010. “Resilient Dynamism” in 2013 turned out to be a bad joke, while 2015’s “The New Global Context” focused attention on ways to foster stronger economic growth with “a higher-degree of social inclusion” (all those Occupy campaigns on inequality finally had an impact), but the rise of Islamic State and the migration crisis across Europe sort of undermined those warm Davos thoughts. For many in the world, those at Davos are part of the problem, not the solution. — Glenn Dyer

Davos is like the United Nations for the rich and powerful. Lots of hot air and lots of meetings. All to make the wealthy and the powerful feel good about themselves at the start of each year. So what will the great and good of Davos contribute this time? Warble on about the fourth industrial revolution (robots etc)? They may just moan about the impact of the higher Swiss franc on costs (especially the cost of the many parties) and complain about the lack of snow (climate change or weather, dear chap?).

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and fellow Perthsider and (Wesfarmers managing director) Richard Goyder are among Australians networking on the peaks of Davos-Klosters. So for all the words you will read, hear and see about Davos — all that breathless reporting — remember one thing: you will get more sense from a meat tray raffle and a few beers down the local bowlo on a Friday night than you will get from Davos, and something you can sink your teeth into as a bonus. In fact, with Switzerland suffering from a warm winter, Davos will merely add to the localised warming and hold off a new snow fall until Saturday. — Glenn Dyer

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey