The "Rich And Powerful" Flock To Davos: Now... And Then

Tyler Durden's picture

With the 1% of the 1% due to engorge Davos with their high-thinking centrally-planned solutions to the world's oh-so-foreseeable problems, the FT takes a look back at a "world above it all" from 1914. Then too, Margaret McMillan notes, they would have been puzzling over how to cope with their fast-changing, troubled world. They would have worried – as they do today – about the future; concerned that the pattern of economic boom and bust was dangerously unstable; and warning that society might splinter as inequality grew and the middle classes were squeezed. One thing that would not have troubled Davos that January 100 years ago was the possibility of a major war. Europe had just come through two dangerous wars in the Balkans, which surely showed that the international order could cope with crises. And so they would have gone their separate ways confident that they would all meet again in 1915.



Via The FT's Margaret McMillan,

The crowds promenading on the main streets or jamming into the cafés and restaurants of the small resort town are elegant. No jogging pants or puffy jackets but women wearing huge fur hats, ankle-length skirts and wonderful wraps; or men in plus fours carrying skates or skis. The occasional emaciated passer-by is not a supermodel or fitness guru but one of the consumptives seeking a cure in the healing mountain air. Welcome to the World Economic Forum – as it might have been in the Davos of January 1914.


Then too they would have been puzzling over how to cope with their fast-changing, troubled world. The lovely wife of the Russian chief of staff might have swept by, ignoring unkind whispers that her besotted husband had helped himself to state funds to keep her in those sables. English lords, Austrian grand dukes, Hungarian landowners, American tycoons, German generals, Japanese diplomats, Indian maharajas, Brazilian mining magnates – Davos then, as now, was host to the world’s rich and powerful.


John Pierpont Morgan, the titan of Wall Street; British newspaper proprietor Lord Northcliffe (already showing signs of mental instability); Hugo Stinnes, the great German industrialist who was warning his own government against its belligerent foreign policy – they would all have wanted to be there. So, too, would the men representing new, world-changing technologies: Thomas Edison, busy promoting the many uses of electricity; Guglielmo Marconi, whose wireless was transforming international communications; or perhaps Graf von Zeppelin, whose airships were already carrying passengers.


For amusement, they might have had the leading learned men of the time. Perhaps the US Captain Alfred Mahan, who had done so much to persuade world leaders that history showed sea power was the key to a nation’s greatness; or H G Wells, who predicted a future including airships and armoured vehicles powered by the new internal combustion engines. Australian opera singer Nellie Melba might have performed for them in the evenings or Nijinsky repeated the scandal of his premiere the previous year of “The Rite of Spring”. They may also have spotted the formidable German novelist Thomas Mann, whose wife, Katia, sought treatment for tuberculosis in a sanatorium that later became the elegant Waldhotel, and for whom Davos was his Magic Mountain.


Sir Edward Grey, the British foreign secretary, would not have come for he disliked foreign parts and most foreigners. Winston Churchill, first lord of the admiralty, would not have missed the excitement of a big international meeting. Henry Asquith, UK prime minister, would have come but only reluctantly because of the domestic situation: home rule for Ireland was dividing the nation; and he missed the young Venetia Stanley, to whom he daily wrote passionate letters.


Everyone would have been very civilised, of course, but keen observers – such as obscure Russian journalist Lev Trotsky – would have noticed that Raymond Poincaré, the nationalist French president, frowned when finance minister Joseph Caillaux was too friendly to the Germans. Caillaux’s adorable wife kept him company, her hands tucked into a fur muff. (Two months later she would pull a revolver out of the same muff and shoot the editor of Figaro for threatening her husband.) Poincaré would have preferred to spend his time with the Russians, France’s most important ally; or the British, whom he hoped would give him a military alliance.


The Russian tsar was unlikely to be in Davos – he did not like to leave his family and his ailing heir – but the German kaiser was bound to be there. Wilhelm loved to parade on the world’s stage, telling everyone how he worked ceaselessly for peace. His insistence might have carried more weight had he not just increased the size of his army and navy. While his chief of staff took the cure back home, Friedrich von Bernhardi, another German general, was bound to cause a stir in Davos, having just penned a bestseller extolling the virtues of war.


Radicals or revolutionaries would not have disturbed the mountain tranquillity – the Swiss police would have seen to that – and militants such as suffragettes could threaten hunger strikes all they liked. So our imaginary delegates could eat their cakes and sip their tea in peace.


Yet still they would have worried – as they do today – about the future. Montagu Norman of the Bank of England was only one of those warning that the pattern of economic boom and bust was dangerously unstable. The papers were full of stories of labour unrest and violent strikes. Social reformers such as new US president Woodrow Wilson were warning that society might splinter as inequality grew and the middle classes were squeezed.


One thing that would not have troubled Davos that January 100 years ago was the possibility of a major war. Europe had just come through two dangerous wars in the Balkans, which surely showed that the international order could cope with crises. And so they would have gone their separate ways confident that they would all meet again in 1915.

It seems, as is the case now, much self-congratulatory back-slapping and little action is (and was) the order of the day in Davos each year... and yet we, the great unwashed, will be treated to minute-by-minute coverage of every fart and frown from the fraus and frauleins as they share with the people, the plan for our future.

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fonzannoon's picture

same as it ever was.

fonestar's picture

Pretty soon, the world's Bitcoiners are going to have their own convention along these lines.  I'll just sit and grin, the bits will roll right in.

Dick Buttkiss's picture

In case you haven't seen this, fs, here's a great Max Keiser report on the wonders of Bitcoin:

P.S. Where would you like to hold our first convention? I'm thinking someplace warm, but that's just me.

fonestar's picture

Some place warm would be good.  I'm sick of this Canadian crap.

Canadian Dirtlump's picture

You're a canuck dwaynestar? Should i be looking for a guy wearing an "end the fed" t shirt in a calgary pub?


Drinks on me...

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Why Canadia citizen is should worry about US Federal Reserve...

Because Bank du Canada is just sub-part of confluence of Bank of England and Federal Reserve, both is own by Rothschild family and control through Rothschild agent. Is like small life boat suck into vortex of sinking Titanic.

(BTW, Mr. Dirtlump, you are frequent to eat Donut at Tim Horton establishment? In Russia, if lucky, is eat potato donut, call "spudnut" in joke reference of first human vehicle in low gravity orbit!)

TwoShortPlanks's picture

I love the common depiction of Davos as a wealth-power group seeking a NWO, which is always just around the corner, each year, every year. The way I see it, Davos is just a puppet show to give the illusion that they're still working on something which in reality has been in affect for over 200 years.

Swift Codes replaced the WMD Nukes of the Cold War, and that's all you needed to sustain an already existing NWO....and a war each time some a nation tries to circumvent the system.

Countries can squabble over this and that, but all hell breaks lose when business is done outside the BIS.

Canadian Dirtlump's picture

hi boris,


i eat at tim hortons but only their ham and swiss sandwiches or the new extreme italian. oddly in lethbridge there is a donut place ( when i gew up anyway ) called spudnuts.

in other news my kids have a recent fascination with baba yaga.

edotabin's picture

Isn't there supposed to be one in Miami this weekend?

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Boris is nominate for Crimea (or Odessa) where is warm and many beach of nominal regulation for swim attire.

Bunga Bunga's picture

Wrong, one of them will simply buy Davos.

Who Laughed's picture

look buddy. btc is going down. sooner or later, probably sooner. buy some gold and bury it in your garden

fonestar's picture

Bitcoin is going down?  LOL!  Good luck wishing on that, if you stare at the sun long enough it will go out too!

I suggest all hard working Armenians stockpile at least six months worth of parboiled rice and Bitcoin.

madtechnician's picture

look buddy. btc is going up. sooner or later, probably sooner. buy some btc and bury it in several usb drives.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

usb drives won't outlast gold & won't survive EMP. Gold will. BTC has no value. those bits promise nothing. Transactions are irreversible so likely you get nothing for BTC, but in the event someone does trade, you may get 0.000001 of what you wanted to get because smart people with real goods know there's no point in trading anything for btc at any price but the lowest possible which is in the area of around $5/ea.

Easily within 2 years BTC won't even exist anymore. Trade at 5 cents each and no takers. Just like any other pennystock pump 'n' dump.

madtechnician's picture

An EMP large enough to take out the bitcoin network will also be large enough to take out Nuclear Power Plants and Weapons facilities. Good luck with fondling your gold in your bunker if that event ever transpires.

PS - it's Fiat money which is the Pump & Dump , and it's not far from being dumped.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Actually, no, you can make smaller ones & deploy them using EMP-hardened drones.
or deploy them by truck near major ISP's.
Plus cut fibre optic wires: EMP's won't  harm them but they can't be cut to keep working.

EMP does not require a nuclear blast even though that's the original source of one.

BLOTTO's picture

We are living the dream, but its not ours...

trader1's picture

ABSTRACT. This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed.

Occams_Chainsaw's picture

It's going to according to plan.  Just sit back and be ready to pay the bill folks.

EscapingProgress's picture

I'm not paying for anything. Bernanke has my tab.

Spawn of Cagliostro's picture

Rouhani and his staff will add some "exotic" spice, to go along with the Goldie Hawn orgy.

LetThemEatRand's picture

Leaked agenda from Davos.  

Day 1.  9:00 am:  Topic I.  "Do we continue fucking around and buying more hollowpoints and servers for the NSA, or are we at a point where we can just declare victory and open the FEMA camps?"

Noon:  lunch.  

2:00 pm:  continue discussion of Topic I. 

3:00 pm:  recess.  Drinks and entertainment, sponsored by Goldman Sachs.

Day 2:  9:00 am:  Topic:  "How do we sell our decision on Topic I to the world, or do we even need to?"

noon:  adjourn. 

kaiserhoff's picture

Pas, mon ami.

You forgot happy hour 5:00

Topic:  I thought she was the Ambassador's grand daughter;)

benb's picture

More likely, referring to the 14 year old boy - "I thought he was the Ambassador's grand son."

combatsnoopy's picture

Will they get together and shovel some of that frozen white stuff up their nose and do donut holes in the icy parking lots with Audis again this year? 

I'm so impressed that the IMF and US Tax dollars are funding such progress. 

Trucker Glock's picture

Entertainment = drugs, hookers, and muppet pinatas (excuse the lack of tilde on the n)

chump666's picture

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way."

Charles Dickens, Tale of Two Cities

We are stuck in a wash cycle. 

kaiserhoff's picture

 I never ski Davos.

  My 185 cms. won't fit in the overhead bins.

combatsnoopy's picture

Davos - seminar for perfecting strategies for the respective bullshit factories in attendance.  

benb's picture

But then how would they bleed us for the 100 tril over the next ten years they say they need to set up their world government?

nmewn's picture

Brrrrrr, how do we get our grand ship the Inconvenient Truth out of the Antarctic ice pack so we can score some moar fiat!?!?!?

EmmittFitzhume's picture

There's a new Outkast song out called "Bombs over Davos"

benb's picture

As a point of argument only, I once said to a friend - If we had a military (which we don't) all they would need to do is send about a dozen Hellfire Missiles into the next Bilderberg meeting and this sleazy, criminal, underhanded war against the human race would have the wheels pulled out from under it.

AreaMan's picture

The agenda


1. How to address world hunger

2. How to address genocide in many areas of the world including Moozlems killing christians at an alarming clip.

3. Fukushima how to save the pacific ocean

4. How to finally allow a cancer eradicating drug to come to market.

5. Renewable clean energy such as solar.

With all their power and money Im sure all these issues will be fixed rather soon so sit back and take a breath.... everythings gonna be ok.

disabledvet's picture

At least in 1914 they really could say "war came as a surprise." Historians will for a long time argue why World War I ever happened. This go around?

Behold your economy in action Davos People!

ReactionToClosedMinds's picture

I love ZH -- it is the best fin site out there (even in its excesses).  But this is getting ridiculous.....

....I am no fan of Davos and despise as much as ZH does ... but at least report accurate information are going to force me to pick up a NYTimes after decades if you keep the propagandizing up ZeroHedg..........!

Shudder:  I cannot imagine forcing myslef to read the publisher of J Walter Duranty's propaganda ..... but ZH you are falling into your own trap.   Keep it straight ... you will get more readers I can assure you.


q99x2's picture

That is a perfect number for the 12 sacrificial pyramids: one sacrifice on each pyramid each month of the year.

(Note: A month on Q99X2 is exactly = 1.69411764786 Earth months)

Can I have em?

Duc888's picture



Right from Klaus Schwab, the WEF's founder and executive chairman.


"Hit the RESET button!"

williambanzai7's picture

Klaus Slob, the Winter Vizier of the self deluded

thomasincincy's picture

"Hit the RESET button!"

Is this like a time machine or something. Like looking at old newpapers of prices and such. it just DEBT

I heard this "RESET" lingo some years ago and don't quite understand how that WORKS

GumbyMe's picture

I'm sure the planet would appreciate a minor cleanup of the pesky humans, perhaps to the tune of 4 to 5 billion, and I have no doubt that we will oblige.

dexter_morgan's picture

seems may be easier to eliminate 85 or so instead?

USRegulation's picture

Vincent McCrudden starts Project For Government Reform ( Pass it along!