Obama Snubs Davos
Plenty of high-powered financial executives wouldn't even think about missing the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos next week. Top political leaders from Germany, China, Russia, Japan and Britain will be present and accounted for, prepared to discuss the global economic crisis. And who will be there from the Obama administration?
Just two days ago, according to the AFP wire service, a WEF director said the forum was planning to welcome White House National Economic Council director Larry Summers and "potentially" Treasury Secretary nominee Tim Geithner to Davos. Now, they've both cancelled and been replaced by Jarrett, who is a senior advisor to Obama and his assistant for intergovernmental relations and public liaison.
All things considered, Obama has good reason to keep Summers and Geithner in Washington next week. Things are pretty dire on the economic front domestically. Obama's stimulus plan is being swiftly crafted with the hopes of being passed by the end of February. And his economic team must also formulate yet another financial bailout package for the troubled banks. Flitting off to the Swiss Alps to hobnob with world leaders might not sit well with legislators or taxpayers.
But it's yet another disappointment for the World Economic Forum, which some have speculated may have lost its luster as the world economy collapsed during the past twelve months.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph last fall, the forum's founder, Klaus Schwab, suggested that he hopes to return the annual meeting to "its intellectual roots" and that the conference's celebrity status will be a thing of the past.
"The partying crept in,'' Schwab said. "We let it get out of control, and attention was taken away from the speed and complexity of how the world's challenges built up.''