Davos: the upside

Since I was rude about Davos (see The Davos Smugfest) a few days ago (much to the frustration of Adrian Monck, the former journalism professor who has forsaken academia to become its lead PR guy), I should perhaps balance that post by drawing attention to this more emollient piece by Google CEO, Eric Schmidt.

It’s easy to sneer at Davos as a place where the rich, powerful and famous come to talk to each other and arrogantly put the world to rights. But there has been little sign of arrogance at recent gatherings. Nor any settled view of how to overcome the challenges our world faces. If there is a global conspiracy underway at Davos, no one has yet let me in on the secret.

Instead Davos mirrors the uncertainty in the world in general. The real story this year was not arrogance but anxiety over how we could channel turbulent global forces in a more positive direction so that everyone gains. It's a rare chance for people — whether political or business leaders — to check their more narrow interests at the door and discuss these challenges from a broader perspective.

So we heard real and widespread concerns about the direction of the American economy and, for the first time, the danger of stalemate in our political system. There was intense discussion, too, about the eurozone and levels of debt. Here, too, there were concerns about politics, the lack of clear direction and lowest common denominator decisions…