Jonathan Chait

Worried About Bonus Blowback? Go to Davos!

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The Wall Street Journal reports that a lot of the bank executives who shunned last year's World Economic Forum in Davos are quietly returning this year. Which could get a little awkward, since the execs will rubbing elbows with the global glitterati right around the time the average American is fulminating against their outrageously high bonuses.

How's a banker to deal with the potential PR problem? According to the Journal, the answer is ... Haiti:

The reconstruction of the Haitian economy will be at the forefront of discussions, with an emphasis on galvanizing international businesses to invest in an economy they largely shunned even during the boom. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, a U.N. special envoy for Haiti, will address a session Thursday.

Well, that and furiously downplaying the extravagance of the whole affair. It turns out Davos is basically on a par with your average Catskill hamlet, and the best you can do accommodation-wise is the Swiss equivalent of a Motel 6: 

For their part, organizers take pains to depict Davos as a serious opportunity to discuss the world's most vexing problems, not a celebrity-filled shindig in a posh resort. Indeed, unlike Gstaad or St. Moritz, Davos is more of a mountain village than a chic ski destination. It has only one five-star hotel, leaving many executives in accommodations they would normally shun. "This is the nearest to slumming it that these chief executives get to these days," said one WEF official.

Hmm. Maybe Haiti's the way to go here after all.

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