Davos Agonistes: Glum Intellectuals vs. Optimistic Businessmen (vs. Indifferent Public)


The Economist's good Free Exchange blog cogitates thusly on the World Economic Forum at Davos, where "thinkers" (e.g. economists, journalists, etc.) clash with "doers" (e.g. entrepreneurs, businessmen, etc.) over the state of the globe:

In the dinners and the discussions, the journalists and economists and politicians raise all the questions about inequality between winners and losers, deplore the absence of political leadership and compare this age of globalisation gloomily with the one that collapsed with the first world war.

The business people reply, by and large: "Come off it"….

Is there a historical parallel in this? Was there a similar split between business people and thinkers in, say, 1900? Can we find a happier comparison, with a time where the optimism of the business people was proved right? How about Britain in the early 1980s when the economics faculties were queuing up to denounce Thatcherism, but the entrepreneurs were happily sniffing the wind?

Well, how about it? I side with the entrepreneurs on this one, though that wind-sniffing image reminds me of the truism that everyone likes the smell of his own shit.

More here.

A Reuters report says that b-men are upbeat ("more than 90 percent of 1,100 chief executives [polled at Davos] expect revenues to grow over the next 12 months and a similar number see sales continuing to expand during the next three years") but describes a different divide: Between folks who think global warming should be the major focus of discussion vs. "who feel it is stealing the thunder from the debate on poverty." More on that–and a cameo from U2's Bono, the second-most talented pop musician with that name–right here.