The traditional gathering of global movers and shakers in Switzerland has been shaken to the core as decades of market certainties are no more.
The founder of the WEF, Klaus Schwab, says the discussion this year will be about the crisis in markets and confidence, as leaders look at their "ethical values base". John Mastrini reports:
As the world's elite arrive for their annual Swiss pilgrimage to the World Economic Forum, they are tightening their belts and maybe drinking a lesser vintage. This year, the routine conversation in this tiny resort village of Davos, is of crisis, job cuts and austerity.
Reuters Columnist James Saft is a veteran of Davos debates. He says years of consensus among the movers and shakers have been shaken to the core.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) REUTERS COLUMNIST JIM SAFT, SAYING:
"There had been something that you might even be able to call the Davos consensus that existed for the past ten years and that was the idea that markets generally would have primacy over government, that there would be less regulation, that capital would flow freely and that a lot of the answers to people's problems could be found in the market. That, it hasn't exactly fallen over entirely but that is deeply in question this year."
Should anyone want to vent their frustration at the politicians, CEOs and central bankers here, security is tighter than ever, and protestors are being kept well away.
Professor Klaus Schwab, the man who founded the Davos forum in 1971, makes clear that this year is like no other:
(SOUNDBITE) KLAUS SCHWAB, WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM FOUNDER, SAYING (English):
"The problem with the crisis is that, in reality, an accumulation of several crises. We have a crisis of imbalance in the global system, we have a credit crisis, we have above all a confidence crisis and we have a systems crisis, so all together it makes it difficult to really deal with the crisis."
While many companies have cut back on plans for grand parties and dinners, the hotels are packed and the skiing is good.
Belvedere Hotel manager Ernst Wyrsch:
(SOUNDBITE)(German) BELVEDERE HOTEL MANAGER, ERNST WYRSCH, SAYING:
"People don't want to send out any wrong signals to the world, this effects us in that we've had 30 to 35 percent drop in food and beverage sales. But we will be able to compensate this drop with the increase in participants and meetings. But there are fundamental differences to previous years."
But far from fun in the snow, Davos may be send a chill down the backs of many, in this winter of discontent.