It’s that time of year again. The world’s “great and good” are descending on a small Swiss Alpine town for a four-day jamboree of champagne and talks about the world economy.

The guest list, however, is looking a little thin.

Yes, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law who helped bring peace to the Middle East, is there. As is António Guterres, the UN’s general-secretary, European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen and Spanish president, Pedro Sanchez.

But Olaf Scholz is the only G7 leader in attendance. Messrs Macron, Biden, Trudeau, Japan’s Kishida, Sunak and Italy’s Giorgia Meloni have all – sensibly – stayed at home.

They will have twigged that the jet-setting glitz and glamour of the event would play poorly with a domestic audience struggling to both eat and heat their homes at the same time.  

The decision to ditch Davos also chimes with the contradictory theme at the heart of this year’s conference, an event synonymous with globalisation.

Protectionism (or, more politely, economic self-reliance) is gate-crashing the event, as countries boost subsidies for domestic industries, and turn inwards.

Twas ever thus, you might say. Locking top business leaders and politicians away together in a remote retreat is a petri dish for crony-capitalism. The backroom deals Davos spawns point to the hypocrisy of the liberal, free-market sentiment parroted by the event’s guests.

Davos has played host to some historic events over the years. Nelson Mandela and South African president FW de Klerk met at the event in 1992, in a major milestone for the country’s political transition. In 1988, Turkey and Greece averted war with a declaration signed in the town.

Yet, with many of the world’s biggest movers and shakers turning their back on the event, the odds of a momentous moment are slim. Davos is looking less relevant than ever.

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