DAVOS, Switzerland – 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:
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
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