The Daily Davos

01.27.12

Pessimism in the Alps

Leaders Fear the Worst in Davos.

The skies are gray and the mood is bleak on day three of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Friday’s panels are equally grim as leaders take on some of the world’s most worrying problems. “What if Iran Develops a Nuclear Weapon?” was the hottest panel Friday morning with Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency leading a discussion with Deputy Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak, U.S. president of the Coucil on Foreign Relations Richard Haass and External Relations Minister of Brazil Antonio de Aguiar Patriota. 

world-economic-forum-capitalism-vulnerable-nadeau
The Global Fund board chairman Simon Bland (L) and Microsoft founder and US billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates pose for a photo during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on January 26, 2012. (Fabrice Coffrini, AFP / Getty Images)

Throughout the week, conversations in Davos have ultimately focused on what has been coined as "the Europe problem," which is clearly on every leader’s mind.  “We have a time bomb, the bomb is in Europe and we are working together to deactivate it before it explodes over all of us,” warned Mexican President Felipe Calderon, current head of the G20. “The failure of a containment strategy will mean not only the potential implosion of the euro, but an economic crisis with devastating consequences for the rest of the world.”

Friday’s hottest economic sessions reflected the somber mood as leaders turned introspective. “Fixing Capitalism” led by Angel Gurria of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and “The Future of the Eurozone” with finance ministers from France, Spain, Brussels, and Germany spurred heated debate in the halls. Friday’s televised debate focuses on the provocative question: “Big Banks: Cure or Curse for the Global Economy?” Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank is sure to draw an attentive audience as he tries to lay out the future in an address called “Europe’s Economic Outlook.”

Off the economic circuit, topics are not much brighter. An interactive session called “A Day Without Satellites” will focus on society’s growing dependence on satellite technology by painting a picture of just one 24-hour period without it and how the dark the day would be. A panel called “What if All Known Antibiotics Lost Their Effectiveness” will warn against the effects of over-prescribing antibiotics.   “Preventing Burnout” led by an impressive panel of international mental-health specialists will be a timely panel in today’s always-on-always-available world.

Even the Art and culture offerings for Friday are bleak.  The highlight will be a demonstration of repurposing garbage as art led by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz.