Hello from Davos, Switzerland, where I’ll be spending Tuesday through Sunday at the World Economic Forum, which is held here each year. This is my third visit, and the second with Jones Lang LaSalle.
The Forum brings together 2,500 business, government and public-sector leaders from around the world into one cramped convention centre and lots of crowded hotels, to discuss events, conditions and social issues impacting the global economy.
Why am I taking time to participate? It’s a very efficient way to meet with clients and prospective clients at a senior level. It reinforces the firm’s visibility to senior clients. And we are the only major real estate services firm here, so we’re able to lead on issues – such as global real estate market conditions, real estate finance and sustainability in buildings – to a global audience of business and public leaders.
And in between, there’s the opportunity to get some feel for the big questions of the moment:
- If we’re through the recession, what comes next?
- How will governments regulate the financial system?
- How will governments fix their own finances?
- Implications of the big power shift from west to east?
I’ll try to draw some implications for real estate, the firm and our clients. We’ll see what indications we get by Sunday.
Here are some first impressions, from the bus, the book line, the attendee list and the first evening’s events:
- The U.S. government, absent in 2009, seems to be back this year.
- The same story goes for the banks, who mostly stayed away in ‘09 (expense control and concern at being scolded!), but are back in good numbers.
- And there are clearly more Indian and Chinese companies attending.
The general mood of attendees last year was somewhere between “controlled fear and cautious pessimism.” So far this time, the mood feels “cautiously optimistic.”
The Forum’s theme has changed, too, from 2009’s unofficial “What went wrong, who did it and how do we survive?” to 2010’s official focus on “rethink, redesign and rebuild.”
I’ll be adding thoughts to this blog at the end of each day’s session this week, and I’d welcome any comments you have.