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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 07:20 AM

6. Magic Mountain What happens at Davos?

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/03/05/120305fa_fact_paumgarten

The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, was well under way when it officially commenced, early on a Wednesday evening in January, with an address, in the Congress Hall of the Congress Center, by Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany. She had a lot to say about Europe. Some of it—“Do we dare more Europe? Yes, we do dare”—made the news. But outside the hall many Davos participants paid her no mind. They loitered in various lounges carrying on conversations with each other. They talked and talked—as though they hadn’t been talking all day. They had talked while sitting on panels or while skipping panels that others were sitting on. “Historic Complexity: How Did We Get Here?,” “The Compensation Question,” “Global Risks 2012: The Seeds of Dystopia”: over the course of five days, a man could skip more than two hundred and fifty such sessions.

Many Davos participants rarely, if ever, attend even one. Instead, they float around in the slack spaces, sitting down to one arranged meeting after another, or else making themselves available for chance encounters, either with friends or with strangers whom they will ever after be able to refer to as friends. The Congress Center, the daytime hub, is a warren of interconnected lounges, cafés, lobbies, and lecture halls, with espresso bars, juice stations, and stacks of apples scattered about. The participants have their preferred hovering areas. Wandering the center in search of people to talk to was like fishing a stretch of river; one could observe, over time, which pools held which fish, and what times of day they liked to feed. Jamie Dimon, running shoes in hand, near the espresso stand by the Global Leadership Fellows Program, in the late afternoon. Fareed Zakaria, happily besieged, in the Industry Partners Lounge, just before lunch. The lunkers would very occasionally emerge from their deep holes (there were rumors of secret passageways) and glide through the crowd, with aides alongside, like pilot fish. (The W.E.F. says that Davos is an entourage-free zone, but this doesn’t seem to apply to the biggest of the big wheels, like heads of state.) It is said that the faster you walk the more important you are.

I walked very slowly. I was new here, a first-timer. That Wednesday, I was eager to hear Merkel, but on my way I got sidetracked in the lounge by conversations that seemed interesting, especially the ones I wasn’t part of. It was a name-dropper’s paradise. Central bankers, industrial chiefs, hedge-fund titans, gloomy forecasters, astrophysicists, monks, rabbis, tech wizards, museum curators, university presidents, financial bloggers, virtuous heirs. I found myself in conversation with a newspaper columnist and an executive from McKinsey & Company, the management-consulting firm. This was serendipitous, as so many conversations in Davos turn out to be, because, at the urging of many, I was supposed to be angling for an invitation to the McKinsey party, at the Belvedere Hotel. A must, people said, with a glint. I was suspicious, owing to an incongruity between the words “party” and “management consulting.” But this was Davos. The executive cheerfully added me to the list. A McKinsey for a Merkel: a fair trade.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/03/05/120305fa_fact_paumgarten#ixzz1naHBu5vh


Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/03/05/120305fa_fact_paumgarten#ixzz1naGx92Pl

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