As the gulf between the rich and everyone else continues to grow, at least 119 billionaires are converging on Switzerland next week to join bankers, politicians and other grandees for their annual pilgrimage to the Alps.
The elite group, worth about $500 billion, includes regulars like Bridgewater Associates LP founder Ray Dalio, Blackstone Group Inc. Chairman Steve Schwarzman and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon. They appear on a guest list of more than 2,000 names, representing roughly 100 countries, for the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos.
The event retains its enduring status as the premier networking hub for the world’s wealthiest — with its attendant flock of private jets and $43 hot dogs — even as it faces increasing criticism for its exclusivity.
“I’ve been going since 1979,” said India’s Rahul Bajaj, who will be making his 40th appearance at the event. “It’s grown a great deal since then but I continue to get a lot out of the meetings, the sessions, the surroundings.”
It’s no surprise he feels at home. He should be joined in Davos by at least 18 other Indian billionaires with a combined net worth of about $100 billion and business interests that include technology companies, steel mills and motorbike makers. Six are members of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world’s 500 richest people.
For some, the gilded guest list seems at odds with the event’s focus on creating fairer economies and remaking the world of work. This year’s theme is “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World,” and panels include “Balancing Domestic and Global Inequality” and “Breaking Legal Barriers to Equality.” Last year, a panelist caused a sensation when he slammed attendees for ignoring tax avoidance by the rich.
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SOURCE: Bloomberg, Tom Metcalf