This year's World Economic Forum meetings in Davos, Switzerland will be more somber than in recent years:
Not long ago, at the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Richard Fuld Jr. of Lehman Brothers held forth on the state of the global economy before mesmerized journalists and cowering subordinates while other Wall Street stars mingled after-hours with the likes of Claudia Schiffer, the German supermodel.
As business, government and nonprofit leaders trek up the peak made famous by Thomas Mann's novel, but now better known for the gabfest that begins Tuesday, star power no longer is in.
Politicians, not corporate titans, are poised to be the big draw this year, echoing the broader power shift away from the free market as one government after another tries to prop up its sinking economy.
Google is cutting back on the lavishness of their parties, as is Citigroup. AIG won't be attending at all, and neither will past attendees Brangelina and Bono. Still, it's hard to cry for Davos when "cutting back" means hiring a less expensive helicopter to shuttle you around:
Of course, when it comes to economizing at Davos, everything is relative. At BB Heli, which provides helicopter service to Davos, business is still strong, but more passengers are opting for a single-engine helicopter rather than the faster twin-engine model, said Marcus Baumann, the general manager. So instead of paying 9,800 francs for the 45-minute flight, the cost is cut to 4,900.