Felix Salmon

#DavosToGreece

It’s time to move the World Economic Forum away from the Swiss enclave with which it has become synonymous, at least for one year. A Greek island — Arianna Huffington suggests Patmos, while Andrew Ross Sorkin is more partial to Santorini — would be perfect: a change of climate, a change of scenery, and an opportunity to bring the forces of global plutocracy to bear exactly where they can do the most good. Davos has billionaires, but it doesn’t have any yachts.

Esther Dyson’s hopes for Russia

In the general atmosphere here in Davos of worry and apprehension, it was great to be able to sit down with Esther Dyson this afternoon and get a dose of refreshing optimism — and about Russia, of all places. There’s an elite group of Russian technologists here — Dyson, a lifelong Russophile who’s fluent in the language and on many boards of Russian technology companies, introduced me to both Arkady Volozh of Yandex and Anatoly Karachinsky of IBS. And she’s convinced that the success of the Russian technology sector can not only make for thriving companies but also for a much improved country.

Fear in Davos

It’s highly unscientific and anecdotal, but the winner by far of the most-talked-about-person-in-Davos award, at least when it comes to people in my earshot, is George Soros.

Davos’s status levels

Here’s my infographic on the badges at Davos, put together with the invaluable help of Alex Leo and Juno Lee.

Adventures with job titles, Davos edition

wordle.jpg

This is a word cloud of the job titles of the 2,623 official delegates to the World Economic Forum in Davos this year. It’s pretty clear what’s going on: while the most important people at the forum are still the ministers and heads of state, there are only 24 ministers in all. (I’m not sure about the presidents, they get mixed up in all the executive vice-presidents and the like.) Meanwhile, there are 674 CEOs, from Mustafa Abdel-Wadood to Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala. And, of course, 490 Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen (but only two Global Chairmen).

When plutocrats collect artists

The 4th Davos Philanthropic Roundtable, held in Davos during the World Economic Forum, was one of the more surreal events to happen last week. Sponsored by Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, it ostensibly served to examine the role of art in social transformation, both in theory and in practice. But the real message of the panel was that if you get a bunch of art-world types to sit on a panel and intone vapidly, you will produce no light and precious little heat.

Chris Hayes on fractal inequality at Davos

The triumph of Davos

Davos, in 2011, was the year when the cynics were finally proven wrong. Long derided as a sybaritic alpine gabfest, the World Economic Forum astonished the world with what it was capable of this year, deftly leveraging the talk around its chosen theme — “shared norms for the new reality” — into an effective and timely intervention in Egypt. The Forum’s slogan — “committed to improving the state of the world” — became reality, as the actions of a small and powerful few atop a distant Swiss alp managed to give shape and direction to what would otherwise have remained inchoate and dangerous demonstrations in the volatile North African hotspot.

Building a regulatory architecture for microfinance

The best panel I went to at Davos this year—and I got the impression that most of the other people there would say the same thing—was a lunch session today on going “beyond microfinance” when it comes to providing financial services to the unbanked around the world. The implosion of the microfinance sector in Andhra Pradesh has clearly had a sobering effect on much of the well-intentioned professionals here in Davos, and it’s clear that a lot of the hope that surrounded microfinance is now moving on to other things, especially mobile banking.