Thursday, January 21, 2010

With Bailout Money Overflowing His Pockets, Davos Man Is Back

By R. Wright

Davos Man has a dilemma. Does he go into the attic, dust down his skis and have them waxed in preparation for next week’s Davos festival of chat, or does he stay at home and dodge the critics?

Most likely, if he decides to go he will get his manservant or his second wife to hunt down his skis, because the most highly evolved animal on the planet is unlikely to get his hands dirty and risk hitting his highly coiffured head on a roof beam.

You will all be familiar with Davos Man. According to the political scientist Samuel P Huntington, who is credited with inventing the phrase, they are mainly men with “little need for national loyalty, view national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing, and see national governments as residues from the past, the only useful function of which is to facilitate the elite’s global operations”.

Last year, it turned out rather differently. Davos Man suddenly needed Mandarin Man because the efficient markets were threatening to blow the entire financial world into smithereens.

Mr Davos’s BlackBerry Bold, the newest model naturally, went into overdrive. His bonus was threatened, his hedge funds were sheared and his wives and mistresses turned toxic. Worst of all, he had to grovel to badly dressed men and women in Whitehall and on Capitol Hill.

Last year’s Davos was a mute affair. Many Americans stayed away. No Vikram Pandit, the chief executive of Citigroup; no John Thain, the former head of Merrill Lynch who spent US$1.2 million (Dh4.4m) at the beginning of 2008 redecorating his office, complete with Versailles-style commode and a $25,000 parchment waste bin; and no Bob Diamond, the super-smug investment banking head of Barclays.

Even Bono, the Irish rock-singer-turned-saviour of the world, decided that he was too busy recording a new album to get involved in “Shaping the post-crisis world”. Too bad his album turned out to be a dud and sold about as quickly as a collateralised debt obligation last year.

No. Davos Man stayed away. It was a good decision. First, he would have had to listen to Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, declaring that “investment banks, the pride of Wall Street, have virtually ceased to exist”.

Then there was Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, who made scathing comments about the “inappropriate macroeconomic policies” of various countries and the “unsustainable model of development characterised by prolonged low savings and high consumption”.

Read the rest of the article here.

1 comment:

  1. The satire falls flat for me. Not enough punch. These Davos fools are beyond parody, we need the scorched-earth satire of an H.L. Mencken.