David Weidner

David Weidner's Writing on the Wall Archives | Email alerts

Jan. 31, 2012, 12:01 a.m. EST

Davos is just an ego trip for the 1%

Commentary: What’s wrong with Davos and how to fix it

Portfolio Relevance

Want to see how this story relates to your portfolio?

Just add items to create a portfolio now:

  • X
    Alcatel-Lucent ADS (ALU)
  • X
    Bank of America Corp. (BAC)
  • X
    Citigroup Inc. (C)

or Cancel Already have a portfolio? Log In

By David Weidner, MarketWatch

Continued from page 1
Page 1 Page 2

Davos pretends to be kumbaya capitalism when it’s really nothing more than cartel capitalism where the Moynihans and Rubensteins of the world can lament the Occupy Wall Street crowd and feel sorry for one another.

The WEF always has been this way. Back when the global bubble was expanding, great financial scions such as Dick Fuld, the former CEO of Lehman Brothers, John Thain CEO of CIT and former chief of Merrill Lynch, and Charles Prince, the former CEO of Citigroup Inc. /quotes/zigman/5065548/quotes/nls/c C +1.27%  enlightened the crowd on the benefits of Wall Street finance.

It’s a record the Forum should be ashamed of, but you know they’re not. They keep pumping up the public relations and rolling out the red carpet for the global media, in the U.S. case: Maria Bartiromo and her latest snow bunny parka.

Don’t blame Maria, though. Financial elites keep the media friendly through their control of access. That’s why you rarely see a challenging interview. It’s a failing of our industry. Reporters there choose their words carefully to ensure access to these elites. Moynihan and Rubenstein? Almost all of the readers I hear from have “choice” words for them, too.

All of the financial media love Davos. We’re underpaid and insecure. A junket to Switzerland, even with the grueling work of regurgitating financial baloney, most of us would take the assignment. And why not? We may not be important, but we feel important for a few days. Davos looks beautiful. Sometimes Bono shows up. It beats working.

That’s pretty much why anyone on Wall Street ends up there too.

Here’s the truth about Davos: not a single person I’ve met who’s been to the event say that it’s worthwhile in the way the Forum has intended it. Do people learn about global warming, famine in Africa, joblessness in Europe? Yes.

Does the WEF help the world in substantial ways? It does.

The not-for-profit group hosts more than 200 working sessions in Davos, and nine regional meetings around the globe that are less publicized and more focused.

But if attendees really cared about any of that, they’d have done something about it.

No, Davos is a place to be seen, to feel special, to cut a deal. It’s the global system’s way of telling the citizens of the globe that everything’s working.

Brian Moynihan and David Rubenstein say it is. And they should know. They were at Davos.

$ 31.99
+0.40 +1.27%
Volume: 41.33M
Feb. 2, 2012 4:00p

David Weidner covers Wall Street for MarketWatch.

Page 1 Page 2

Comments on this story

Join the Conversation

Community guidelines »

About David Weidner

RSS News feed

David Weidner is the Wall Street columnist for MarketWatch. He formerly covered M&A and financial services at The Daily Deal, American Banker and Dow Jones...

David Weidner is the Wall Street columnist for MarketWatch. He formerly covered M&A and financial services at The Daily Deal, American Banker and Dow Jones. He writes the Writing on the Wall column which appears Tuesday on MarketWatch and Thursdays on WSJ.com. He also is a regular contributor to the News Hub.

More from David Weidner

  1. Who benefits when a bank dies?
  2. 12 Wall Street voices to tune out in 2012
  3. 10 biggest losers on Wall Street in 2011
  4. Europe’s bank meltdown will hit home here
  5. Dump your bank

Featured Commentary »

Link to MarketWatch's Slice.

Email address


Forgot password?