Davos Notebook

Davos: If your name’s not down, you’re not getting in

With only a week to go until kick-off, the organisers of the 41st World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, have just announced the programme based around this year’s theme: ‘Shared Norms for the New Reality’.

So who will be in the snowy Alpine resort of Davos to discuss this ‘new reality’ and, we hope, lead the way in putting forward solutions to the most pressing global risks of the day?

A popular ski resort at other times of the year, Davos is a closed shop to outsiders during the WEF. The barbed-wire barriers, endless security checks and snipers on rooftops are a reminder that, among the 2,500 politicians, businessmen and representatives from media, charitable organizations and religious groups, there are some pretty important people.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will deliver the opening address. Other G20 leaders in attendance will include: Felipe Calderón, President of Mexico; David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK; Angela Merkel, German Chancellor; Herman Van Rompuy, Council of the EU; Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France; Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia; and Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa.

Other confirmed participants include Timothy Geithner, U.S. Secretary to the Treasury; Eric I. Cantor, Majority Leader, U.S. House of Representatives; Chen Deming, China’s Minister of Commerce; Pranab Mukherjee, India’s Minister of Finance; Bronislaw Komorowski, President of Poland; Lars Lokke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark; Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, President of Iceland; and George Papandreou, Prime Minister of Greece.

Three-and-a-half questions for the Davos gurus

DAVOS/For the last several years, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has published an annual report on global risk, as part of the run-up to the storied annual meeting in Davos. The 50-page report makes for gloomy reading: it is a dense collection of some of the major threats to the world’s security — from asset price collapse to weapons of mass destruction — and the interconnections between them. And they’re all carefully mapped in terms of their perceived likelihood and perceived economic impact.

You’ve got hand it to WEF: their report is thorough and sobering, and makes a great reference tool for later in the year. Last year’s report said that “there is a rising risk of sovereign defaults,” and that proved more accurate and expensive than anyone wished.

Yet for all its insistence on a big-picture, global perspective, the WEF risk report can seem internally contradictory or just hollow, as if pieces of cloth were produced in separate quarters with no one sewing them into a coherent quilt.
And so, for those who want the big picture to be even bigger, here are three-and-a-half major questions raised, but not answered by the WEF risk report.

Iran’s foreign minister joins the Davos Debates

Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Manouchehr Mottaki discusses the aims of, and his thoughts on, the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Marathon day for Greece in Davos

It’s truly a marathon. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou are in Davos to tell the world that they are serious about reducing their huge deficit.

UK finance minister Alastair Darling, who passed by, tapped the PM’s shoulders, saying:  “Are you doing the rounds? Good luck!”

Below you see how our team of text reporters and Reuters Insider television prepping for an interview with the finance minister, inside the congress hall in Davos.