03/31/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011


This week, the 40th World Economic Forum in Davos began its lofty and high-minded sessions. Their slogan - which sounds very much like a McKinsey PowerPoint - is the predictably illiterative "Rethink, Redesign Rebuild."

But here is one obvious and unacknowledged target for those triple Rs, and that's the WEF itself - and its dismal record of failure.

Consider that there are 227 different programs at Davos, befitting an organization with the lofty goal" of "Improving the state of the world" and to "...engage leaders from all walks of life to shape the global agenda."

There are sessions that cover a dazzling gamut, everything from climate change to re-defining market capitalism to population growth to the economics of happiness.

But how about the simple challenge of "Where Did Davos Go Wrong"? Where's an introspective look at the WEF's performance during the decade-long run-up to the global crisis?

After all, year after year, the movers and the shakers showed up, full of gassy opinions and geysers of pontification. How is it possible that the World Economic Forum was unable to anticipate the global financial meltdown, and to use its considerable power and influence to warn the world? At the very least, why didn't they save Iceland?

There should be no goal more important for the World Economic Forum than to protect the world's economy. Yet when you spend time reading their propaganda, studying their calendar, and watching their videos, the silence about their own culpability reflects an unseemly arrogance and elitist lack of responsibility. Aren't they even the least bit curious to understand why they didn't ring the buzzer?

If I was scheduling Davos, I'd lead off the event with a must-attend forum, characterized by brutal and lacerating self-examination, having a mission of determining how and why the WEF and its posse of panjandrums was so blind-sided by the global financial crisis.

Specific themes would include:

• Is the WEF so much a creature of the banking power structure that it lacked the independence required to challenge the dangerous practices that had become a way of life?

Are its participants - who Bono called "Fat cats in the snow" - captives of the global power structure?

• Is the WEF simply a self-congratulatory body that strokes the egos of those invited, and creates a "forum" for deal-making, but doesn't want anything to threaten their profit path? Were the participants at Davos over the last ten years making too much money on leverage to crusade against it? Were they too cozy with both the capital side and the regulatory side to be their conscience?

All the suspicious beneficiaries of the bail-outs - Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein - have been to Davos at one time or another.

• Is the WEF more interested in trying to become cool - with Twitter updates, Facebook groups and touchy-feely subjects like "Enrichment Through Music" - than it is in speaking truth?

A "think tank" like the WEF is supposed to bring the world's most influential leaders and the world's best minds together to solve the world's biggest problems. But it sure doesn't give us much confidence when they missed the greatest financial crisis in 50 years - and then act like they had no obligation to use their powerful megaphone to sound the alarm.