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Opinion: Soul-Searching, Not Solutions Made Davos a Success

After five days, the World Economic Forum came to an end without reaching agreement on how to solve the global economic crisis. The meeting was, nonetheless, a success, says Deutsche Welle's Michael Knigge.

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If you expected concrete measures for the solution of the global economic crisis and a schedule for their implementation, you will have to consider the World Economic Forum in Davos a failure. Now that the summit is over, the way out of the economic crisis is still not any clearer than it was before the meeting in Switzerland.

Michael Knigge

Michael Knigge

Certainly, there were enough suggestions: German Chancellor Angela Merkel advocated the creation of an international economic council as the new controlling body, which -- just like the Security Council -- would be residing at the United Nations. Economists Nouriel Roubini and Nassim Taleb -- famous for their pessimistic but accurate forecasts -- demanded the full privatization of banks. And British Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke up, like several other participants, in favor of strengthening the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

But the question of how these ideas should be practically implemented and how long this would take remained unanswered. And that for a good reason: Many propositions contradicted each other, either in parts or fully. This made the most important element of any solution for the world economic crisis -- a global consensus on the methods -- impossible to reach.

One should, nevertheless, consider the World Economic Forum a success. Seeing managers and politicians discussing issues and fighting each other, witnessing business bosses and ministers trying to get a grip on the roots and development of the crisis, and sensing the uncertainty of the elites about the future, one could only conclude: The time for solutions was not yet ripe.

Instead of adopting a master plan with concrete steps for the future, Davos delegates had systematic analysis, collective wound-licking and mutual soul-massage as the order of the day. For the first time since the beginning of the crisis, business and political leaders could thoroughly share and exchange opinions with one another in the midst of the Swiss Alps. In a certain way, the World Economic Forum functioned as a global psycho-couch.

That may not be satisfactory from the point of few of the people all over the world who are suffering from the economic crisis. But without accepting and coming to terms with a crisis -- that's what any wanna-be psychologist will tell you -- no breakthrough will be possible. If an important part of getting to understand and evaluate the crisis took part in Davos, then the World Economic Forum was a success. A breakthrough would have to happen at the latest at the London G-20 summit in April.

Michael Knigge covered the World Economic Forum for Deutsche Welle (tt)

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