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31 Jan 2009 06:00
It is snowing in Davos, home to the World Economic Forum, and fog hangs over the mountains—a cold start for an austerity conference, where the world’s not-so-very-rich-anymore are gathering to work out how it all went wrong.
The party is over in the City of London, and perhaps it is here in the Swiss Alps too.
No boss of a nationalised British bank wants to be spotted pouring Krug down the throats of hedge fund dealers.
The ski slopes have been empty.
A year ago things were different.
But this year Bono isn’t even coming. Nor is Sharon Stone. She will, of course, be missed.
The classy thing to do at Davos right now is to cancel at the last minute. British ministers are telling advisers to stay home, just in case the tabloids make a fuss. Last year the London Daily Mail newsdesk demanded its reporter hunt out the Russian prostitutes alleged to have been helicoptered in. This year, he will probably be under orders to spot fat cats overdoing the schnapps. Google is partying on—but its offer of an after-hours late lounge sounds more sofa chat than samba. The best parties, surely, will go underground.
A code word on the door, a curtain pushed aside—exclusive entry to the capitalist speakeasy, in a world where the rich no longer want to be seen.—
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