World

DAVOS WATCH: Political, business leaders discuss global uncertainties in first day at Davos

The World Economic Forum kicks off in the Swiss ski resort of Davos with the stated goal of "improving the state of the world." In practice, it's a networking event that brings together 2,500 heads of state, business leaders, philanthropists and artists. Here are some glimpses of the event:

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SWISS FOCUS

Unusually, host country Switzerland is itself the subject of many discussions this year at the World Economic Forum. The reason: the massive surge in its currency's value last week.

The jump in the Swiss franc, which at one point Friday rallied 30 percent against the euro and the dollar in a matter of minutes, is seen as a sign of the jitteriness in the global economy.

It has also made attending the forum a whole lot more expensive. That's not a problem for many attendees, which counts chiefs of industry, billionaires and politicians travelling on a state budget. But it will balloon the costs for those hundreds of professionals attending the forum with a view to network with the bigwigs.

Someone attending from the U.S. will find all their expenses over 15 percent higher. Those from the eurozone are looking at a 20 percent hike.

-By Carlo Piovano, Twitter: twitter.com/cpiovano

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DAVOS PRICES

Even before the Swiss franc's rise, there is talk here every year about the high prices in this resort — and the suspicion that they are even higher during the World Economic Forum.

One speaker saw the transition in action. She and her husband arrived early at a cozy hotel near the edge of town to do some skiing. They quite enjoyed the restaurant with its fixed-price menu at a relatively reasonable 25 Swiss francs ($29) a head.

On the morning the forum convened, the hotelkeeper informed them there were a few changes in the menu. It was a tad fancier, our speaker reported. But the big change was at the bottom.

The fixed price meal was now 50 francs.

-By Mike Oreskes, Twitter: twitter.com/michaeloreskes