By Ray Fleming

THE World Economic Forum has been meeting at Davos in the Swiss Alps at this time every year since 1971.
So why is the world economy in such a mess and apparently isn't going to get better, in Europe anyway, until 2020? It's not the Forum's fault, of course, but given that the great and good of almost every leading international, national and business organisation meet and talk together at Davos, aren't we entitled to think that things should be a bit better than they are? I suppose the Forum people will say that without it things would be even worse. Who knows?

Anyway, the formula is as before with some 2'600 people unplugged from their parliaments and executive offices hoping that open discussions on issues of the moment and social mixing will lead to better understanding of each another.

And, to be fair, I expect it will do so but in a way that is quite impossible to quantify or prove. The theme this year -- deliberately obscure as usual -- is “The Great Transformation -- Shaping New Models” and Chancellor Angela Merkel will respond to it in her keynote opening speech.

Advance briefing suggests that the need for greater emphasis on growth and less on austerity may emerge from the formal and informal discussions as the Davos message of 2012 and be carried over to the EU Summit nest week.

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