The private thoughts of bankers
The most interesting events at Davos are those from which hacks like me are excluded.
They are the private meetings of business leaders and politicians, where matters of material interest to them are discussed, away from the nosey parkers of the media.
The meeting that always grips me - which I wrote about last year - is the gathering of senior bankers, insurers, hedge fund magnates and so on.
It goes by the name of the "governors" meeting, or some such.
Attendees include Stephen Green, chairman of HSBC, Bob Diamond of Barclays, Joseph Ackermann, chairman of Deutsche Bank, Peter Sands, chief executive of Standard Chartered, Lord Levene, chairman of Lloyd's of London, Tidjane Thiam, chief executive of the Pru, and assorted other big financial cheeses.
Anyway, as luck would have it, a few of those who attend have shared with me (as they did last year) some of the discourse of those whose business decisions affect most of us.
So in no particular order of importance, this is what they appear to have collectively concluded:
1) The global economy remains pretty fragile - and prospects are particularly poor for the heavily indebted economies of the west (a big hello to the UK and US). They felt there was very little immediate prospect of fast-recovering China and Asia lifting up the mature economies of Europe and North America.
2) There is a meaningful risk of sovereign debt crises in economies with large and rising deficits (you know who I mean - though to be clear, the bankers did not mention the UK by name).
3) They do not believe that President Obama will succeed in his plan to limit the size of banks or force them out of speculative trading for their own account.
It was the exchanges on bankers' pay which made me chuckle (and may cause a more violent reaction in others).
Deutsche's Mr Ackermann asked those present to vote for one of three propositions on what was most likely to transpire over the coming years in respect of how they reward staff.
The choice was between a) bankers don't change their ways, the fuss about bonuses dies down and there's no change to the way they pay their top people; b) they take steps to reform their practices and that placates politicians and the public; c) they do nothing and politicians force draconian changes to the way they pay.
After much contemplation, there were few votes for proposition a), and something of a dead heat between b) and c).
In other words, those who run our banks are divided between whether they'll voluntarily do what most of you would probably see as "the right thing" on pay or be compelled to do so - with almost no one believing that the status quo is tenable.
But if the status quo is unsustainable, why would they wait to be coerced into reform?
All a bit odd - and not redolent of an industry in charge of its own destiny.
Also there was an intriguing exchange between two of the most powerful bankers in the world (whom I won't name to spare their blushes).
One said there was no evidence that bankers were overpaid, because if that were the case the biggest payers of all would have been damaged as businesses over the years of lavishing excessive rewards on their people.
To which the other supremo made the point - or so I am told - that banks are a regulated oligopoly and are not subject to "proper" competition: they are therefore able to pass on the costs of their people to customers.
In other words, banks are able to pay their people more-or-less what they like, free from the market disciplines that apply to genuinely competitive industries.