This 12 months’s World Financial Discussion board wasn’t alleged to be concerning the occasions within the Pink Sea.
When the conveners got here to place it collectively – the 2024 version of the annual shindig at Davos the place plutocrats mingle with politicians and celebrities within the Swiss mountain village – that they had loads of different large points on the menu.
The spotlight of the opening day was alleged to be the looks of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
There may be session after session about synthetic intelligence and the vitality transition.
But, as is so typically the case, the primary speaking level right here on the “Magic Mountain” was one thing else completely.
On this case, because the wealthy and well-known come to debate the state of the world, there are fretful noises about what’s taking place within the transport lanes of the Red Sea.
And you may see why.
Davos is, in some senses, the last word emblem of globalisation.
Listed here are 1000’s of delegates whose lives and livelihoods rely on the free motion of products and capital all over the world.
But lately, they’ve needed to contend not merely with battle in Europe and hideous assaults within the Center East, however a fraying of the very international order they stand for.
The attacks on shipping within the Pink Sea are solely the beginning of it.
World leaders have forsworn the free commerce, non-interventionist insurance policies that dominated in a lot of the WEF’s lifetime.
The US has dedicated to huge subsidies to shore up its vitality sector; Europe is pledging to do one thing comparable; even the UK is experimenting with industrial technique.
Within the meantime, diplomatic and financial relations between the West and China have change into extra frigid, whereas Russia is as soon as once more persona non grata.
In brief, the steadiness and calm which most delegates right here have lengthy hoped for has begun to evaporate away.
However the Pink Sea assaults elevate additional questions.
One of many premises of globalisation is that fairly than attempting to make all the things domestically, one ought to supply the most affordable viable product from abroad as an alternative.
However what if these merchandise will not or cannot flip up on time? What if commerce turns into so harmful that you could now not depend on ships turning up in any respect?
Such questions are terrifying to these right here in Davos, largely as a result of they’ve been in a position to take free commerce as a right for therefore lengthy.
So whereas the episodes of latest weeks weren’t scheduled to play a serious position within the panels and speeches this week, there’s each likelihood they could intrude.
But, Davos is about multiple matter. It’s a place the place businesspeople come to satisfy and to do offers.
It is a spot the place campaigners come to attempt to entice the eye of the world’s richest and most influential individuals.
It’s a discussion board the place politicians are available in an effort to be taken critically – it isn’t for nothing that each the UK authorities (through Jeremy Hunt and Lord Cameron) and the Labour Get together (through Rachel Reeves and Jonathan Reynolds) are right here in power.
It’s a carnival of capitalism, in all its garish, complicated, colors on show.