Searching for the Davos Guy

From Thomas Friedman at Davos.

DAVOS, Switzerland — In its own unpredictable way, the Davos World Economic Forum usually serves as a crude barometer of the latest mood or mania on the world stage. This year did not disappoint. What has struck me is the quiet urgency that infused so many panel discussions and private conversations here between investors, politicians and social activists. To put it crudely: Everyone is looking for the guy — the guy who can tell you exactly what ails the world’s financial system, exactly how we get out of this mess and exactly what you should be doing to protect your savings.

But here’s what’s really scary: The guy isn’t here. He’s left the building. Elvis has left the mountain. Get used to it.

What do I mean? First, if it is not apparent to you yet, it will be soon: There is no magic bullet for this economic crisis, no magic bailout package, no magic stimulus. We have woven such a tangled financial mess with subprime mortgages wrapped in complex bonds and derivatives, pumped up with leverage, and then globalized to the far corners of the earth that, much as we want to think this will soon be over, that is highly unlikely.

We are going to have to learn to live with a lot more uncertainty for a lot longer than our generation has ever experienced…