Friday. It’s been a quiet day. I sat down this afternoon to catch up on current affairs but the only thing I could find on TV was a chap with an orange face and yellow hair being inaugurated as President of the United States.
‘Same old same old’, I thought, as I toddled off to the kitchen to make myself a nice cup of Kenyan…but barely had I reached the door when an email arrived from the FT…exquisitely timed to distract my attention from the inauguration ‘thingy’, it was none other than a new missive from the brainiest man on the rock, Professor Larry Summers. ‘Great’ thought I, as I returned to my seat to soak in the latest pearls from the Teflon King. I was not disappointed…in a blog piece entitled ‘Disillusioned in Davos’, he once again bestrode the moral high ground like the colossus he is…
“Edmund Burke famously cautioned that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I have been reminded of Burke’s words as I have observed the behavior of US business leaders in Davos over the last few days. They know better but in their public rhetoric they have embraced and enabled our new president and his policies…
I am disturbed by (i) the spectacle of financiers who three months ago were telling anyone who would listen that they would never do business with a Trump company rushing to praise the new administration; (ii) the unwillingness of business leaders who rightly take pride in their corporate efforts to promote women and minorities to say anything about presidentially sanctioned intolerance; (iii) the failure of the leaders of global companies to say a critical word about US efforts to encourage the breakup of European unity and more generally to step away from underwriting an open global system; (iv) the reluctance of business leaders who have a huge stake in the current global order to criticise provocative rhetoric with regard to China, Mexico or the Middle East; (v) the willingness of too many to praise Trump nominees who advocate blatant protection merely because they have a business background…
It is a lesson of human experience whether the issue is playground bullying, Enron or Europe in the 1930s that the worst outcomes occur when good people find reasons to accommodate themselves to what they know is wrong. That is what I think happened much too often in Davos this week – Larry Summers
Dear Disillusioned of Davos
You must be new to the wisdom of the alpine air. This year's crop are amateurs by comparison with some of the soul-selling performances from previous meetings.
In years past we've had self-obsessed politicians posing as 'economists', espousing the virtues of the abolition of Glass-Steagall, singing the virtues of de-regulated derivatives, and preaching the stimulative benefits of negative interest rates.
The 'philanthropists' take the biscuit though. Do you know for example that there's one guy who espouses the virtues of 'liberalism', whilst spending millions on destabilising governments he doesn't like - he even gives his revolutions a bright colour so they'll stand out. How's that for irony eh?
So, don't worry Professor - there's nothing unusual about this year...except of course, that the majority of 'delegates' are not getting the conformity they feel entitled to from the plebs they've been screwing for decades. The poor dears are awfully upset about that.
P.S. The inauguration ‘thingy’ seemed to go OK, apart from some balaclava clad 'snowflakes' that decided to break a few windows. This mostly took several attempts, since glass is clearly tough stuff in Washington. So the prize for the most shattered thing of the day goes to the facial expressions of the 'empty suits' and 'stiffs' on the podium when the orange-yellow man said that he was taking their toys away and giving them back to the people who paid for them. Whatever else he does, I hope he does that…and in that...I wish him fair weather and a good tail wind.