Davos Polka Dance

[Editor’s note: Parts of today’s Economic Prism appeared nearly a year ago under the title Davos Hootenanny and Salvation Call.  Herein we’ve merely updated it for this year’s Davos Polka Dance.]

Pockets of Liberty

Despite the reformers endless efforts to encircle mankind, some persist beyond the broad extent of their casted net.  In the backwaters of the Republic, for instance, the distant rumble and flicker of Saturday night hootenannies still befall yonder the mighty oak groves.  In defiance of all things good and proper, the unconsecrated gather under the pale moonlight and jig step to zydeco washboard rhythms while downing tipples of corn syrup and fermented grain.

These knees-ups certify that, even in this era of big government, there remain places in the lower forty-eight where freedom reigns.  Across the planet, no doubt, there are pockets of liberty where individuals can use whatever light bulb they want without fear of the pokey.

These places are uniquely exceptional with their own distinct rhyme.  But, in common, they’re all places where the air smells sweet, the water flows clean, and the people can hold their chin up.

Similarly, the backwoods of the old world, rare as they may be, have not been entirely defamed.  Though old world songs are more rigid – and drinks more dry – than they’re new world counterparts, there are still places where people come together with gusto, and without interference, to dance the polka around the mulberry bush.

Davos, Switzerland, located along Landwasser River, in the Swiss Alps, is not one of these places.  For 51 weeks out of the year it’s a wealthy enclave and ski resort.  However, for one week the place is overrun by business, political, and academic reformers at the annual World Economic Forum.

This week the big gathering’s going down.  It officially kicks off tomorrow.  Although we didn’t receive an invitation this year…we’ll leave you with some excerpts from the opening night welcome address we prepared…

Welcome to the World Economic Forum!

Welcome to the World Economic Forum!  We ask that while you’re here, despite the smug agenda, you don’t take what you hear to be all that important.

Event organizers, for example, have titled this year’s gathering: Resilient Dynamism.  What does placing these two words next to each other really mean?

According to, W. Lee Howell, managing director of the World Economic Forum, “Resilience is crucial because, in a hyperconnected and interdependent world, no one country or organization can manage global challenges on its own.  To be resilient is to be able to adapt to changing political and economic contexts and pursue critical goals while also being able to withstand and recover from sudden shocks.  Today’s biggest challenges, meanwhile, also demand dynamism — overcoming the ongoing global economic malaise, for example, requires the capacity for bold vision and even bolder action.”

Hence, by the gobbledygook, you can see why it’s best not to take what you hear here to be of much importance.

What you make of who you see here we’ll leave up to you.  However, we’d like to welcome some of our distinguished speakers…

Davos Polka Dance

First we extend a hearty welcome to Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase.  He’s scheduled to present on The Global Financial Context.  You should definitely take a moment to chat with him while you are here…but not about his forum message.

Rather, you should ask Dimon about the $6 billion in losses his bank incurred last year from a derivatives bet gone bad by the “London Whale.”  Naturally, this won’t be part of his presentation.  That would be embarrassing.  Still, it merits discussion.

Please, also, permit us to offer a fraternal welcome to Wolfgang Schäuble, Federal Minister of Finance of Germany.  Schäuble will be leading The Global Economic Outlook session.  Someone may want to ask him about his country’s recent decision to repatriate its gold from France and the United States in case of a currency crisis.

Does this mean Germany has lost confidence in the global economy and the European Monetary Union?  Does Germany distrust the Federal Reserve?  Mr. Schäuble, we’d like to know.

Of course, we can’t complete this address without a genial welcome to Columbia University Professor, Joseph Stiglitz.  You will have multiple opportunities to bump into him at various sessions, including: Closing Critical Inequality Gaps, Creating Economic Dynamism, and the promisingly titled, An Insight.

Yet can someone ask Stiglitz, a New-Keynesian, why all the government spending hasn’t brought prosperity like he said it would?  Is it really because the government hasn’t spent enough?

These are just several of the many speakers here.  Please refer to your programs for the rest of the cast.  We’ll also take a moment to highlight some of the key topics you won’t want to miss:

– “NGOs as New Models for the 21st Century.”  We hope these are just a passing fad.  Have you ever talked to someone from an NGO?  Good grief.  It’s worse than talking to a Santa Monica street activist.

– “Unemployed or Unemployable?”  Is this a yes or no question?

– “Is Religion Outdated in the 21st Century?”  Religion seems to be doing just fine to us.  It’s the social welfare state that’s gone on far too long.

– “War Against Obesity – Fat Invoice?”  Is it now illegal to be rotund?

If you didn’t know, these topics are all critical to the World Economic Forum’s commitment “to improving the state of the world.”

Lastly, before we close, don’t mind the collection of misfits and miscreants gathered outside in protest.  This happens every year.  In fact, last year, one group of women even took their shirts off.

Let the polka dance begin!

Sincerely,

MN Gordon
for Economic Prism

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