DAVOS, Switzerland — The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland is well underway, and there is a lot happening here on the ground despite not being as crowded as previous years.
One source said the crowds feel 10% to 20% lighter in the halls of the Congress Center. Another noted that the after-hours party scene (more on that below) is less muted than in year's past.
There is also far less optimism about the economy in the voices of world's power brokers. One CEO remarked that we may be talking ourselves into a recession. A few others have noted that Europe seems to be near a recession (though European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde offered a different take on this), which could blow back onto U.S. shores.
Here is some other themes Yahoo Finance has spotted on the ground here at WEF:
The ghost of Trump: If you look closely, remnants of the Trump administration are all over Davos — and we aren't talking about those tariffs on China that President Biden may now be looking to end.
The hot after-hours party ticket on Tuesday was from former Trump White House Communications Director Anthony "The Mooch" Scaramucci. The Skybridge Capital founder has also been spotted working the halls — something he is very good at — of the busy Congress Center. No word on if Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, got an invite to Mooch's gathering. Kushner, who was spotted at the Congress Center on Monday, was here for Davos 2020 as part of the presidential delegation but has slipped in under-the-radar this time.
Next hot party ticket is today as cybersecurity firm Cloudflare (who is building a name for holding the best parties at Davos) is flying in The Chainsmokers to perform.
Twitter drama: Those captivated by the Elon Musk-Twitter saga may have forgotten that Twitter Chairman Bret Taylor has a day job — and it isn’t monitoring Elon Musk’s stream of consciousness on Twitter.
Since November 2021, Taylor has worked alongside tech titan Marc Benioff as co-CEO of Salesforce to compete against rivals SAP (CEO Christian Klein is here), ServiceNow (CEO Bill McDermott is not here due to a scheduling conflict, a source told me), and IBM (CEO Arvind Krishna is here, spotted in his trademark dark blue suit).
Taylor clearly knows where his ultimate priorities lie, alongside Benioff and Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield (Salesforce’s latest — and largest — acquisition). Taylor has been meeting with business leaders throughout the week, a source says. Somehow we suspect the Twitter battle has come up in his chats — followed quickly by the future of cloud services and the future of work.
All things finance: It's never hard to spot an investment banker at Davos — usually by their attire. Think slim fit dark-colored Hugo Boss or Zenga suit, fitted dark shirt, slim fit tie and dull black Gucci dress shoes.
The banker brigade has been out in full force this year, mostly the European deals and financing teams from the likes of a Goldman Sachs and others. Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing was also spotted in the Congress Center (in that dark suit setup...), as was the bank's America's CEO Christiana Riley.
Execs who Yahoo Finance have spoken with say bankers are presenting deals (because that's what they do) for companies they believe are worth much more than their current stock prices indicate (the market has been brutal as we all know).
Financing is also top of mind as companies look to shore up their balance sheets ahead of a potential recession. And on the topic of markets, one major hedge fund player told me the selling in the markets may not yet be over. Take from this what you will.