So things are getting a bit heated around here now. Or as a certain very senior Business Week journalist said, “people are really pissy today”. For the three years that I have attended, Davos has been about opportunity and growth and vision and now it is about crisis and, increasingly retribution. And the tone of debate has changed and at times the volume goes up. I was in the BBC World Debate today where there was a very heated exchange between a UK trade unionist from the floor and a panellist, a board member of the US Insurance giant AIG, recently re-capitalised to the tune of $85 billion by the US tax payer. ‘Why did the people who ran the company (and by strong inference the panelist) still have a job when the result of their mismanagement was going to be hundreds and thousands of redundancies for workers and financial pain for those who invested in the firm’? asked the trade unionist to applause from the audience. People are getting roughed up around here (it should make for fantastic TV this weekend).
Versions of this question come up in lots of sessions and I have to say that many of the financial community seem to be remarkably blase about the level of anger out there. And that makes some people shout. It’s all very un-Davos-like.
And of course last night there was the now famous dust-up between Shimon Pires and Turkish Prime Minister Mr Erdogan. I will be wearing a gum shield when I go out tonight.