Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Davos Attendess Think $71,000 to Attend Davos is Cheap

The underdressed Henry Blodget has finally figured out it's all about the plotting:
If you turn on the tube this week and see a correspondent reporting live from Davos, you'll probably get the impression that folks here are talking about the problems in Europe, the growth of emerging markets, or the challenge of climate change.

(I just watched a UK correspondent report that that's what people are talking about).

And it's true that some folks are talking about those things--namely the folks who are speaking about them on panels
Blodget then goes on to explain what is really going on and  why everyone thinks the price to get into Davos is cheap:
And, interestingly, the reaction to these astronomical costs here in Davos is quite different than the reaction to them everywhere else in the world.

Instead of guffawing at the stupidity of the folks who pay such prices, as everyone on Twitter is doing, the people here just shrug and nod and then explain why it's still a bargain and why they'll be coming again next year...

So why do they do it?

Well, first, because as I realized this morning when I showed up at the Congress Center in my "sporty" attire--following the instructions in the Davos Book--the value of Davos to the folks who pay these fees has very little to do with the "themes" of the conference ("sustainability," and so forth).

Instead, the value is the ability to efficiently conduct global business.

I realized this instantly when I saw that I was violently underdressed in my sweater and khakis and that just about everyone else here was wearing a suit. (I've got one, thankfully, and I'll be wearing it tomorrow).

And that's because Davos is now primarily a huge, high-level business conference, in which senior executives from the world's largest companies take advantage of their physical proximity to meet in person with partners and clients and would-be clients--meetings that can end up being vastly more valuable than the price of admission.
Okay, Blodget still doesn't completely get that it's about plotting with government officials to get an edge, block out upstart competitors and basically capture the government officials, but hopefully he will turn up in a suit tomorrow, so at least the other attendees don't continue to mistake him for the conference ski instructor.


  1. Wenzel,

    Author David Rothkopf spends an entire chapter in his book Superclass talking about his experience at Davos, and what it's about. His conclusion: it's about coordinating "global governance" and building inter-institutional ties and agreements between world businesses and world regulators and politicians.

    In other words, exactly what you're talking about. Maybe if Blodget had read my review, he wouldn't have been so surprised.

  2. The investment is easily worth it. Especially for leaders racing toward the lowest global common denominator on worker pay/benefits, taxes and regulation.

    I wonder if Geithner's (and other government leaders) fees are comped.

    "Geithner will hold bilateral meetings with Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Swiss Finance Minister and Federal Councilor Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf.

    Geithner also is participating in several events at the annual gathering."

    People pay for access. The question is who is paying for access to whom?

  3. Don't want the riff-raff to be able to afford it.