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The Blind Spot at Davos – The “algos-gone-wild” culture of global finance.

2013 January 24
by Citizen Journalist Exchange

adbusters_article_105_flashcash_SFrom ,adbusters.org - One of the stumbling blocks the World Economic Forum faces is its garish elitism. Oxfam announced that the world’s 100 wealthiest individuals earned enough money in 2012 to end poverty around the world four times over. Meanwhile, this same global elite is gathered at Davos for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF). International hot shots arrive here on private jets to attend somber seminars on the fiscal cliff, climate change, and food security whilst nibbling away on decadent cheese and sipping expensive wine.

Although the lavish spending required to put on and attend the forum is hypocritical considering poverty, inequality and the economic crisis are the chief issues on the table, perhaps the real problem is not with “elitism” as such. The real issue is what Jem Bendell calls the “sycophancy of the elite.” This rampant sycophancy “restricts [their] ability to explore root causes [of the financial crisis] for that might challenge [WEF] members.”

Professor of Sustainability Leadership and Founding Director of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability, Jem Bendell explains for Al Jazeera:

In 2008, as the financial crisis was in its first flush, the founder of the WEF, Klaus Schwab, effectively apologised for the Forum not having provided insight on the coming storm. “We let it get out of control, and attention was taken away from the speed and complexity of how the world’s challenges built up,” said Professor Schwab. I wondered at the time whether an institution that pays its bills by convening the world’s largest companies to entertain them at high-powered meetings would be beset by a form of systemic sycophancy, restricting its ability to explore any root causes that might challenge members. Five years into the crisis, with more scandals in the past year than ever, from libor to money laundering, we don’t see a major shift in approach at Davos. Banks participate in many of the Global Agenda Councils, and this year UBS co-chairs the Davos summit.

The question therefore formulating in my mind as I head to Davos this year is whether sufficient people in powerful institutions really understand how broken the current systems are, and if they are brave enough to look honestly at what it may take to change them. Read more…

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