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Business Comment

David Prosser: How to change the world – and do a bit of skiing at the same time


The credit crisis might have brought the money merry-go-round to a stop, but nothing stops the economic and political elite making the annual pilgrimage to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Where else would they meet so many of their social equals in one place – and squeeze in a spot of skiing?

David Cameron is schmoozing the delegates, and Nicolas Sarkozy is here too, telling people to back off the euro. Dimitry Medvedev wants everyone to know Russia is their friend. President Obama has dispatched Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to convince us the US is not in decline.

They join some unlikely bedfellows. José Carreras is here to accept an award for good deeds, and Bono is canvassing support for initiatives to improve the lives of children in developing countries. While Bill Gates talks sustainability.

Some personalities transcend more than one world. Nouriel Roubini is an American economist known as Dr Doom, and in Davos they hang on his every word. More popular still is Chesley Sullenberger III, the pilot who landed his passenger jet on the Hudson River. Then there are the ghosts of Davos past. Tony Blair is here to talk about Africa. Plus there's Bill Clinton, who woos the crowd by acting as the conscience of the place.

What brings them back year after year? Either the desire to keep "improving the state of the world", the WEF's mission statement, or just the joy of spending time with their peers while the polite and efficient Swiss police keep the little people well back.