Economics on ice

The host of Al Jazeera’s business programme is heading to Davos, and outlines what the point of it all is.

Davos, Switzerland.

Famous for one thing really.

Every year around this time, it hosts an annual meeting of the biggest business and economic names, world leaders, and the media who follow them all.

In the middle of winter. In the Swiss Alps.

There’s a lot of snow. It’s freezing cold.

They gather for five days. They talk, debate, network, and yes, party, and then go home again. Until the next year when they do it all again.

Have I oversimplified? I’m about to find out. 2013 will be ‘My First Davos’.

I’m quite excited. For one thing, I’ve never been to Switzerland.

And whilst there I’ll be moderating two debates – one on the political and social affects on the Arab Spring (a no-media event so you’ll probably never find out what was said) and one called ‘The Economic Malaise and its Perils’. You’ll see that one because it will broadcast on Counting the Cost.

Do I hope to change the economic world with my contributions? Of course not.

And do the 2,500 participants attending believe that a five day meeting can solve the global economic crisis? I doubt it.

But they will look hard, very hard, for a way out of it.

Because we’re now well over four years since Lehmann Brothers collapsed – popularly marked as the start of the global decline – and things are still bad.

A mortgage crisis became a banking one, and markets crashed all over the place. Now it’s an economic mess – countries in debt and needing bailouts, economies stalling, and unemployment ruining the lives of millions.

It’s just bad news. There needs to be a turnaround.

And the type of people who go to Davos – perhaps us media-types excluded – are the ones who such a turnaround rests upon.

They’re the leaders who can try to stimulate economic growth, or make the cutbacks which are necessary without hurting their own populations.

They’re the business people who can try to turn a downturn into a time of opportunity, rather than a period of stagnation.

They’re the innovators who can find the person or company who likes their idea and is willing to take a chance on them.

I’m not saying it’s that simple, and that tangible results will fall from the heavens like so much snow.

But I can guarantee you that someone at Davos will meet someone else, and out of that meeting will come a new product. Or maybe a funding deal. Perhaps some sort of collaboration. Or a precious job opportunity.

And it’ll happen many, many times over.

And in times like these, that can only be a good thing.

I’ll let you know how it all goes.

(Provided the wi-fi is good and my fingers don’t freeze!)

‘The Economic Malaise and its Perils’ is a live panel discussion in Davos at 0915 CET (0815 GMT) on Friday 24th January. Tweet your questions and thoughts to Kamahl via twitter on @KamahlAJE using the hashtag #DavosDebateAJE.