While we without leadership

What’s being said before Davos?

Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Trade Organization, said before traveling to Davos:

“The year 2008 is a crucial year that could end up setting the tone for some time to come. What we need is an ideological mutation without falling into the trap of protectionism.”

One such mutation in mainstream economic policy took place after the Depression of 1929…

“We are seeing the seeds of a new paradigm,” said Kenneth Rogoff, a professor at Harvard University and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, who will be at Davos this year. “Whoever wins the U.S. election will have to pay more attention to equity. And whatever comes out of the next climate change agreement will be international economic cooperation on a scale never seen before.”

“Economic theory tells us that globalization is a win-win, but it isn’t, at least not in the West,” said Stephen Roach, chief economist for Asia at Morgan Stanley.

“The theory was written for another era. We have to ask some hard questions about unfettered capitalism. We need a new script.”

Weekly earnings for full-time American workers in the second quarter last year were unchanged from their 2000 levels – even though productivity grew by 18 percent in the same period.

Fifty-four percent of Western Europeans and 43 percent of Americans now believe their children will be worse off than they are in economic terms, according to a Gallup International poll in the last quarter of 2007 across 60 countries.

Davos dedicated page here

Is economic history about to change course?

Among the chieftains of politics and industry gathering in Davos for the World Economic Forum, a consensus appears to be building that the capitalist system is in for one of those rare and tempestuous mutations that give rise to a new set of economic policies.

Important comforting guidance during this era, from Oscar Wilde,

We are all of us in the gutter
But some of us are looking at the stars.