Tue January 25, 2011
The Two-Way

Davos Summit Brings Together Big Leaders, Big Ideas, Big Expense Accounts

A substantial helping of global elites will plop down in the rarefied air of Davos, Switzerland, this week for the annual World Economic Forum (WEF).

Captains of industry, politicians and bureaucrats of the first rank, activists of all stripes and the occasional cultural celebrity will convene in a 2,500-strong throng to commune with one another and seek a way forward for the rest of us.

Gathering the big chiefs of the world in a small ski village is no easy task, nor is it cheap. Andrew Ross Sorkin chronicles just how much it costs in a piece over at DealBook.

Sorkin says the price for membership in the WEF and one ticket to the Davos conference comes to about $71,000. That's small change though, as Sorkin tallies it, compared to the cost of signing up as a "strategic partner" and bringing an entourage of five people from your multinational corporation. That will cost you about $622,000.

And that doesn't cover the cost of travel and lodging which, at an event like this, can also run into six figures. Want to throw a party? Well, that's going to cost you, too.

Which leads us to Gillian Tett, a columnist at the Financial Times, who asks, "What is the point of Davos?"

"Why? John Studzinski, a long-time Davos devotee and investment banking leader, has one theory. 'Being a CEO can be a lonely existence in terms of trusting ears and advice, so they come to Davos to meet and talk one-on-one,' he says. Davos had become a 'self-help' group, where CEOs trade information and feel solidarity in a hostile world. 'It's a bit like Weight Watchers,' he quips. 'A place where CEOs can get support.'"

The WEF see the purpose of Davos as something much more than a self-help gathering. Here's how its website describes the annual gathering:

"The Annual Meeting provides a rethinking of our systems and exploration of strategies and solutions that have positive transformational implications. Particular emphasis will be placed on addressing the question of 'How', going beyond analysis and elaborating innovative ideas and solutions to key global challenges."

The fun officially starts Wednesday and goes through Sunday. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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