The World Economic Forum (WEF) annual event is set to begin on Tuesday in Davos, Switzerland. At this event we can expect to see some of the world's top CEOs and political elites. Some 2,630 people will be in attendance, and they can be viewed here. The WEF is a Swiss organization based in Geneva, and is “committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.”
The history of WEF has more humble beginnings. Its original name was the European Commission, but it was later changed to World Economic Forum to broaden it’s objectives. Some major meetings between people have happened there such as F.W. de Klerk (president of South Africa at the time) and Nelson Mandela in 1992.
The annual meeting is invite-only, and to get invited some pay an expensive membership fee. It is mainly comprised of top management from the world's largest, banks, financial firms and corporations and government officials. Some of the attendees from the financial world include, Lloyd Blankfein (CEO of Goldman Sachs), Michael Corbat (CEO of Citigroup, and Jamie Dimon (CEO of JP Morgan). Many current and former world leaders including Bill Clinton will also attend.
Not all the attendees are big corporations; some are smaller start-ups particularly in the new world of the internet, including Perry Chen (CEO and Founder of Kickstater) and Drew Houston (CEO of Dropbox).
The internet has completely changed the way we see the world. In the past twenty years we have seen a communication revolution. I can personally attest to how communication has turned global. Video game interaction used to be confined to the people in your living room, and now people play with people on the other side of the globe who do not even speak their own language. Companies like Dropbox and Kickstarter are beginning to capitalize on the ease with which information can be transferred. The WEF will hopefully embrace these changes.
On a less bright note we may see how the increasing tension between China and Japan play out during this conference. There has been a souring of relations over the disputed Senkaku islands in the pacific. The WEF annual meeting has in the past helped to avert war, and we can only hope it may happen again.
A very safe prediction would be that the current economic crisis is the main topic of most of the WEF. With so many regulators present, all the too-big-to-fail corporations of the world are out in force. We should be wary of the cozy relationship between big business and big government at all large events like this one. Many of these CEOs were here back at the WEF in 2007, and some of their prescriptions then did not help avert the last major financial crisis.