The 43rd edition of that Alpine see-and-be-seen wonk party that is the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting kicked off today. From now until Saturday, the global financial elite—over 2,500 attendees who made the WEF’s invitation-only list—will be schmoozing and talking about that grand-sounding fiction called “the global agenda.” Davos is where world leaders, top businessmen and big thinkers exchange business cards, chat over coffee and mull new ideas as they munch hors d’oeuvres.
So who’s who and what’s what at this year’s WEF meeting? Here’s a quick guide to the event. Follow us over the next few days for more coverage:
Canada’s appearance at Davos this year will be no doubt different than the last. Twelve months ago, Prime Minister Stephen Harper used the WEF stage to deliver a bold speech promising “major transformations” for the country, what Maclean’s Paul Wells dubbed a “Throne Speech.” It foreshadowed changes to Old Age Security (without explicitly saying s0); promised we’d focus on exporting energy to Asia; and bragged about Canada’s standing among G7 economies, the solidity of our banks, and the unmatched speed of our jobs recovery.
This year, things will be more subdued. The Canadian economy, though still faring well, has lost some of its shine. The Prime Minister, for his part, is not attending, sending instead Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, International Trade Minister Ed Fast and Industry Canada’s Christian Paradis. Bank of Canada chief (for now) Mark Carney is the only top policymaker in attendance, and a panel speaker on Saturday. Alberta’s Alison Redford and Quebec’s Pauline Marois are also reportedly going, along with a large contingent of top dogs from the world of business, including RIM’s CEO Thorsten Heins.
Other major attendees include Germany’s Angela Merkel, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (read: Putin) and outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti. The one to watch, though, is British PM David Cameron who is expected to deliver a major anti-E.U. speech tomorrow and will be a keynote speaker in Davos later in the week.
From the world of so-called global governance there will be IMF chief Christine Lagarde, the World Bank’s Jim Yong Kim and the World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy. European Central Bank governor Mario Draghi, of course, is there as well.
Big shots from the private sector include JPMorgan CEO James Dimon, technology queen bees Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) and Marissa Mayer (neo-CEO of Yahoo), as well as George Soros. Other names of notice include Henry Kissinger, Larry Summers and economist Nouriel Roubini, a.k.a. Dr. Doom, who’s not scheduled to give speeches but is tweeting like mad.
Oh yes, and there’s also Charlize Theron. She just delivered some of the opening remarks.
The official theme of this year’s reunion is “resilient dynamism,” whatever that means. (The cryptic title is in keeping with tradition. For a sample of past, inscrutable wording choices see here.) For the official program, see here.
|1. Canada Goes to Davos with a Little Less Swagger. Our bragging rights are not what they used to be. The Wall Street Journal takes notice.||2. The Confidential List of Everyone Attending Davos this Year. A series of detailed, interactive graphs let you search by name, title, affiliation, country, continent etc. Very fun—and revealing.|
|3. Davos 2013: why are only 17% of delegates women? So much for gender equality being one of the three key priorities identified by the WEF this year. The Guardian‘s Jane Martinson laments.||4. Prophecies Made in Davos Don’t Always Come True. Davos is where the world’s biggest brains make the most ridiculous predictions, recalls the New York Times.|