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Heard In Davos: Looking Down On Egypt

The WEF's annual meetingdoesn't officially end until late Saturday with a gala, but the morning feels like most cities after a big festival.

World Economic Forum
Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images
World Economic Forum

Like Hemingway's description of Pamplona on the last day of San Fermin, there is a "morning after" attitude. Things are much slower, nicer furniture is back out in hotel lobbies and the waiters or waitresses let you sit with an empty coffee without immediately asking if you want to order something else.

The Congress Center is mostly empty again, the security lines are maybe two-people long.

But this year it was much more somber. All week Davos had been pretty bullish, about prospects for US growth, the survival of the euro and the strength of emerging markets.

Davos 2011 - See Complete Coverage
Davos 2011 - See Complete Coverage

Today, the iPhones and Blackberries were searching for breaking news of Egypt.

I typically don't leave Davos until after the protesters march. While the banners tend to get more vulgar each year, it is good to get a sense of what those vehemently opposed to the WEF are thinking.

The main argument tended to be a mix of anti-globalization, anti-corporation and pro-socialism. But the scenes in Cairo seemed to take a lot of wind out of the annual protest rather than invigorate it.

The WEF was started as a retreat, which is why the ski resort town of Davos is its home. Later it morphed into media event crossed with a festival. But it recaptured much of its original spirit this week. Maybe it was the weather, with overnight snow and then spectacularly sunny days. It was hard to find much doom, let alone gloom.

Heard in Davos 2011 - Dispatches From The Conference
Heard in Davos 2011 - Dispatches From The Conference

Some participants even felt they had to search for something negative. As one central banker told me: "People at [the WEF] are convinced they have to find something to worry about."

And as they descend the mountains from the retreat, they may find a toppling Egyptian government is what was needed to be discussed the whole time.