Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How many battalions does Davos have?

In a widely cited article, the New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin says that the problem with the Davos World Economic Forum is that it's so sanitized, exemplified in the exclusion of the World's Looniest Country, North Korea, from this year's event. Certainly it would have been nice to know if a DPRK official has something to add to the perpetual shouting and roaring across the DMZ, but it's difficult to see that on its own as a revealing a gap.

But the more telling absence from Davos this year is the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Although at first attributed to the fallout from the Cologne fiasco, and then denied, it seems clear that Mrs Merkel correctly calculated that praise at Davos for her migrant policy would backfire at home. Indeed the sense that it's a self-validating elite talking to each other couldn't be clearer with Christine Lagarde there to release an on-message refugee report. That's not the audience that needed to be convinced. But maybe they need the time to decide how they'll explain it to the rest of us.

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