Keeping Score at Davos While Ignoring Yields

 | Jan 26, 2012 | 9:15 AM EST  | Comments
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Scoring (or most likely buying) an invitation to Davos may or may not confer a certain status. But once at the ski resort, the machinations of who is more important than whom move to another level.

The WEF Conference Center is a remarkably leveling place. Pretty much everyone waits in line for sessions to start or for sandwiches. Everyone wears suits and big jackets and snow boots outside. So people tend to latch onto indicators of importance.

The first status symbol is the badge, covered every year by the press. To rate with anyone you need a white badge. Get an orange one and you might as well just watch the whole thing on TV. After that it's the size of the entourage. These usually come in two varieties, the Vinnie Chase kind (like Bono's assistant running around asking everyone for Chapstick) and the make-way-we-are-armed kind (directly proportional to the assassination likelihood of the respective world leader).

But the trend is definitely digital, now. Last year delegates were comparing Twitter followers. Now everyone can see how popular speakers are by the handy viewer counter on the WEF's live feed player. On Wednesday viewership jumped by about 1,500 to more than 3,000 when Angela Merkel started to speak. (Anything above 3,500 and the player starts to lag, I think.) David Cameron didn't top 2,000 today despite having the "special treat" of the Mayor of London showing up with an Olympic ice sculpture (sand to the beach) made of Thames water, "the Champagne of water" (the French plan to host an event later today featuring the Champagne of sparkling wines).

Even accounting for the fact that a lot of these views are embeds counting as one view, that's a pretty paltry number of viewers. And maybe the reason is that we're not hearing from the countries facing the big problems in Europe. Germany and the UK can argue back and forth about euro bonds and transaction taxes, but all the while the situation for the PIIGS is worsening, not improving.

Case in point today is Portugal. Greece hasn't even managed to secure its next round of financing and Portugal yields are surging, above 15% on the 10-year and 19% on the 5-year.

So if WEF wants those pageviews, it should stay away from the G8 and the Fortune 50 and hear from people actually facing the economic problems.

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