Jeremy Warner: In downbeat Davos, the happy capitalist is hard to find
Thursday 29 January 2009
Outlook If you want to cheer yourself up amidst all the economic gloom and doom, visit the World Economic Forum annual meeting here in Davos, where the mood is one of unrelenting "can do" optimism, as you would expectof business leaders for whom no challenge is too great.
Only kidding. In all the years I've been coming to these annualgatherings of the global business elite, I've never known the mood to be more downbeat, or confidence so deflated. Global capitalism was meant to have all the solutions.
This year, business leaders and bankers are left forlornly wondering what more governments can do to bail them out.
I've trawled the corridors, and the mood is grim, grim, grim. Things will return to normal eventually, but what will that new normality look like?
In the meantime it's a struggle just to stay afloat. Even the perennially upbeat Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of the advertising and marketing giant WPP, struggles to find much to be positive about.
This year is a wipe-out, he reckons, reflecting the prevailing consensus, while any recovery in 2010 will be at best anaemic. Compared with the predictions of some, this counts as almost Panglossian.
When I say it's hard to find apositive voice, there are a few who claim to like it as it is.
Here in Davos, there are the haves and have-nots – those with continued access to finance and those without it. For the haves, a bargain-basement sale of the century of distressed corporate and financial assets awaits.
Include in that category Stephen Schwarzman, chairman of the US-based private equity house The Blackstone Group, and the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch.
Mr Murdoch, one of the co-chairmen of this year's event, is said to bepositively salivating at the thought of the choice media assets he may be able to pick up for next to nothing over the next year.
For the lucky few, there will always be opportunity in crisis.
- 1 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Germanwings plane crash: Video shows co-pilot Andreas Lubitz learning to fly as a teenager
- 3 Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
- 4 Germanwings crash: Captain of doomed plane was only 'on board because he changed job to spend more time with his children'
- 5 WrestleMania 31 results: Seth Rollins stuns WWE as he cashes in Money in the Bank contract to claim title from Brock Lesnar
East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
Ohio Democrat Teresa Fedor speaks out during abortion debate to reveal she has been raped – and is interrupted by laughter from Republicans
Children take eight Isis captives to be beheaded in latest propaganda video
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This multi-award winning foreig...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...
£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...