Davos banker is dazed and confused
A year ago the World Economic Forum or WEF in Davos was a drama lacking a central character.
The bankers, business leaders and politicians who gather in the Swiss Alps every January to schmooze and deal were interested only in what the new young American president would deliver, but neither he nor any of his inner circle turned up to enlighten them.
Today, Davos man - typically a senior banker with an interest in politics, or a politician with a background in banking - is wiser and sadder about Mr Obama.
It was almost as he timed his historic announcement - that he wants to force big American banks out of speculative investing and trading for their own respective accounts and to limit their size - to cast a long, gloomy shadow over this Alpine resort (Bognor aux montagnes).
Here is a smattering of what bankers are saying about his plan to force banks to concentrate on serving their clients rather than gambling with depositors' money:
1) the scheme is vague, confused and we don't know what he's on about;
2) it won't achieve its stated aim of reducing the risks of another meltdown in the banking system (although quite how they know that if they don't understand what he's saying is beyond me);
3) if President Obama's aim is to savagely reduce banks' direct holdings of tradeable securities, it will lead to a second devastating wave of banks dumping assets - and will risk a return of the credit crunch;
4) the confidence of bankers - which the bankers themselves say is so important to any serious revival of lending (so aim off) - has been knocked by the perception that the US and Europe are divided on the future structure of their industry;
5) bankers' confidence has been knocked further (the poor dears) by confusion over who in the US administration has the ear of the president on financial policy-making (the scheme to shrink the banks was the brainchild of Paul Volcker - that rarity, a central banker with reputation in tact - rather than the supposedly banker-friendly Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner).
Long story short, bankers here are dazed and confused.
To which many of you may say diddums. And, as the governor of the Bank of England says, arguably there has not yet been adequate structural reform of the banking industry to put it on a sustainable footing.
But the awful truth is that precisely because banks remain vulnerable - though you wouldn't know it from their lush bonus payments - we need them to have a sense of where they're going, lest the businesses and households that depend on their credit founder too.