Davos: Where Dreams Die

Davos: Where Dreams Die


WEF 2020 met my expectations: the usual suspects shaking hands and speaking about the same issues what they’ve been talking about for years (e.g., climate change, poverty, wealth inequality) while greenhouse gas emissions are worsening year by year, half of the World is on fire and–with the notable exception of BNP Paribas–all commercial banks & hedge funds major portfolios are still in oil & gas and underwriting tax avoidance (no matter what they lie in the press). The key difference I noticed was that there was a tangible sense of urgency/emergency in the air ‘on what’s next after capitalism (had a great Q&A with Marc Benioff)’, i.e., where money should be invested, where we’re heading and how do we navigate this unknown’.



My overall takeaway was that we’ll be launching our impact amplification fund at the right time and with the right message: answering how to solve the 2 degrees and creating a new economic model encompassing a new mix of KPIs including planet, people, profits and potential. One of our key taglines is  ‘where others only see despair, we see opportunities emerging and, where there is chaos, lives the chance for new systems.’  It’s an evergreen message whose time has come. More on Davos below – a sum up by Felix Salmon







Call it the hypocrisy gap. Davos has always struggled with the difference between the conference’s rhetoric and its reality. This year, as climate change and talk of “stakeholder capitalism” increasingly dominate the public agenda, the gap between why delegates go and why they say they go is wider than ever.

Why it matters: Davos, once a quiet Alpine talking shop, has become a global media frenzy. Governments, corporations, and the World Economic Forum itself (slogan: “Committed to Improving the State of the World”) increasingly see Davos as an opportunity to send the message that they care deeply about {insert cause here}. But that’s not what keeps the plutocrats returning year after year.

The value of Davos, the reason why companies spend astonishing sums of money to attend, has nothing to do with improving the state of the world, and indeed has precious little to do with the official WEF program.

  • Heads of state, finance ministers and plutocrats attend Davos for a very simple reason: It’s the one time each year when they’re all in the same place at the same time. If your job involves talking face-to-face with CEOs from around the world, one week in Davos can save you months’ worth of private-jet flights.

Davos delegates are even happy to embrace Donald Trump— the unilateralistwho, according to former adviser Steve Bannon, “couldn’t say ‘postwar rules-based international order'” even if you threatened to shoot him. (That’s from the new Trump book by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker of the Washington Post.)

  • Trump is opposed to almost everything that Davos ostensibly stands for, but his presidency has been good for the markets and for billionaires’ net worth.
  • A capital-friendly neoliberal consensus still reigns in Davos, where wealth taxes are anathema and the phrase “doing good” is invariably preceded by the phrase “doing well by.”

Davos is home to the world’s most exclusive caste system, where even billionaires suffer from crippling FOMO and angle desperately for coveted invites. (The Google party is the perennial hot ticket.)

  • The implicit message: You can never have too much of the two things that get you status at Davos, which are money and power.

The bottom line: Davos delegates have to be judged by their deeds, not by their words. Talk is cheap; white badges with blue dots are expensive. And shareholders demand a financial return on the cost of attendance.