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Trains and Takeaways from Davos

While WEF runs, technically, until the Sunday, the big exodus starts around Saturday afternoon. And the train is the best way to gauge the sentiment and see people in a less formal setting.

Davos, Switzerland
Photo: World Economic Forum
Davos, Switzerland

On trip from Davos to Landquart four people from a big Indian tech company occupied one section. They were pleased with the big representation of India at the forum, but less happy that Swiss railways won't allow you to use a credit card for transactions OVER 60 Swiss francs. (Their tickets to Zurich were 65 francs.)

And in the next set of seats there were two men who had just participated in the demonstration against the WEF calling for "revolution." One held a huge red flag with the symbol for solidarity (a fist holding a flower) and read Marx and Engles. Another was campaigning for a global minimal income funded by high taxes on energy.

And at Zurich airport the Korean minister for trade prepped for his long-haul flight with some duty free browsing. He found WEF really helpful, but found it difficult to define the mood of the few days.

That seemed to be a big takeaway. One journalist who has visited Davos for several years said there was "less meat" to the conference than previously meetings.

There was an agreement that banking regulation and reform was important, but no real plans on what to do. Europeans were adamant that and reform had to be done with international cooperation, but there are no agreements on the horizon.

Although it didn't get a lot attention during WEF, the international community may still be feeling the after-effects of COP15.

The United Nations Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen delivered very little in the way of global decisions, cooperation and action. That hit confidence that much can change while China and the US have such fundamental differences and there is the absence of a third national or bloc that can be the power broker.

In banking reform it may take a bigger catalyst to spur government into action. We'll see how politicians react to Goldman Sachsif they award CEO Lloyd Blankfein a $100 million bonus.

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