All right, you say, but surely it’s useful for powerful people to exchange ideas and learn from each other’s mistakes. Well, yes; but this lot rarely seem to learn. Whatever the problem, their preferred solution is always to establish a global bureaucracy staffed by people like themselves. Obviously, they don’t put it like that. “The stability of the global economy” is a much prettier phrase than “a juicy public sector post for me”.
It’s like an Ayn Rand novel, where lobbyists reach cosy arrangements with each other in elliptical language. Remember the way she described members of a company board? “Men whose careers depended on keeping their faces bland, their remarks inconclusive and their clothes immaculate”. That’s Davos.
If only these men really were as clever as they thought. Or, to be more precise, if only their cleverness translated into making good decisions. In fact, Davos Man consistently gets the big calls wrong. In the 1970s, he was for prices and incomes policies. In the 1980s, he was for the ERM. In the 1990s, he was for the euro. In the 2000s, he was for the bank bailouts.