Does World Economic Forum Still Matter?

Friday, 29 Jan 2010 10:00 AM

By Jon Friedman

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Is it my imagination or hasn't America lost interest in the annual Davos conference?

Formally billed as the World Economic Forum, it's best known by the insider-y name of "Davos," owing to the hotspot in Switzerland where the gathering of movers and shakers is held in most years. And yes, the rich and famous still do attend the annual conference, but . . . to what end, really?

But does it matter, really?

What do these folks actually accomplish for the greater good of society than hobnobbing with one another, appearing on TV now and then, and getting in some good skiing after the festivities wrap up?

For instance, are they doing anything constructive about putting their collective business and political acumen to work to help save Haiti?

In past years, you practically couldn't turn on a TV set without seeing a dignitary from Washington or Wall Street espousing some view, live and direct from Davos. Maybe I'm missing something these days, but as the blues giant B.B. King might sing, "the thrill is gone."

Maybe I'm just bitter.

I'm based in New York City and the only time I got assigned to cover the Davos conference was in early 2002, in the sad aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks on America. Out of a worldwide movement to stand up for New York, the meeting convened right in my backyard that year.

Sad to say, I've never seen the bright lights, big city of Davos.

Besides, don't all of the cool kids flock to the Super Bowl and the Sundance festival at this time of year, anyway?

Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch.com. Click here to read Jon's latest column.

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