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Davos in the downturn
With no Bono, Obama, or Brangelina, can the global elite focus on business?
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he participants of the 2009 World Economic Forum in Davos this week “can expect a more sombre, urgent, business-like meeting than in previous years,” said James Hall in Britain’s The Telegraph. But that “won’t be hard”—Davos has become “as famed for its parties” and visiting celebrities as for its economic agenda. Now, with the global economy in crisis, the focus will be on bailouts, regulations, and protectionism.

With Angelina Jolie and U2’s Bono sitting this year out, politicians will be the new “star power,” said Nelson Schwartz in The New York Times. Big draws include Britain’s “dour” Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and China’s Wen Jiabao. But there are also notable no-shows: Barack Obama, Lawrence Summers, and Ben Bernanke.

Those corporate and political leaders who do attend will surely bring “a resolve to talk about solutions and a way forward,” said Mark Foster in BusinessWeek online. In fact, while these are dire economic times, it’s “a good time for the various stakeholders of the global economy to come together,” and for “the corporate and political elite” to try to re-earn our trust.

This year’s Davos could also be a good place to gauge the “future of capitalism,” said Carl Lavin in Forbes.com, at least in the near term. “How optimistic are top executives,” especially those, like Intel’s Craig Barrett, who “saw no signs of a slowdown” last year? And how pessimistic are people like George Soros and the “gloomy” Nouriel Roubini, who predicted an “economic crisis” last year?

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