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So, what is the World Economic Forum? And what is Davos?
The World Economic Forum is an annual gathering of the world's top leaders and thinkers. They discuss myriad topics ranging from world finance to geopolitics. There are panels, debates, Q&As, and speeches.
Davos hosts a diverse cast. You have tech CEOs like Yahoo's Marissa Mayer and Microsoft's Bill Gates. And you have economic leaders like International Monetary Fund Chief Christine Lagarde. There are world leaders like former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and current Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Even entertainers, such as rapper will.i.am, turn up.
But the novelty of Davos wears thin quickly. To see singer Pharrell Williams talk global warming in the same conference that a Saudi prince talks good governance is certainly not something you see every day. But it's also an example of what the World Economic Forum is at its core.
Basically, it's a gathering of the world's economic elites yukking it up in one of the world's most expensive European resort towns.
While economically stressed Greek voters ponder whether to turn to "far-left" parties for relief, Al Gore and former Mexican President Felipe Calderon pat each other on the back over a $90 trillion proposal to build a carless world.
The last thing a struggling Eurozone is thinking about right now is Gore's brave new world of low carbon emissions. They want jobs. They want real growth. And they want something done about deflation, which now threatens the world's largest currency bloc.
Yet, for the most part, Davos' meetings today didn't concern themselves with the troubles in the Eurozone. At least not to the extent a venue looking to "improve the state of the world by serving as a trusted partner of all the stakeholders of global society" should.
But in defense of the World Economic Forum, it is four days long.
And the remaining days promise to provide a better discussion on topics that really matter.
Here's the financial news from the Davos conference you should be looking out for in the days ahead...
The ECB's Conundrum amid Davos Festivities
Tomorrow could be the most pivotal moment in the 15-year history of the European currency union.
European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi is expected to announce a bond-buying program - often billed as Eurozone quantitative easing - to pull the Eurozone out of a troubling deflationary trend. The most recent numbers pegged Eurozone inflation at a rate of negative 0.2% in December.
Eurozone QE may be the last tool in the toolbox for Draghi. As periphery countries like Spain and Greece struggle with large debt loads, the last thing they need is deflation. Deflation makes debt worse because as the value of a currency increases, it costs more to finance interest payments and rollover - or pay off - debts at their maturities.
Under Eurozone QE, the ECB is expected to purchase 50 billion euros a month for at least a year, according to several reports.
We have yet to see how Draghi will employ Eurozone QE. He is hamstrung by political treaties and stark opposition from the Germans.
"Mario [Draghi] is not free to do whatever he wants," Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation Angel Gurria, told Reuters on a webcast of "Davos Today." "It's not the Fed. It's not the Bank of England."
The European Union forbids the ECB from financing a member country's debt. German economists and officials contend that's what Eurozone QE would do.
They fear that in buying bonds, the Eurozone will assume credit risk for weaker Eurozone countries. If those countries default, Germany says that it would essentially be subsidizing these weaker countries as the ECB tries to recoup its losses. This would blur the line between monetary policy, which is within the ECB's mandate, and fiscal policy, which is not.
As researchers from the Centre for Economic Policy and Research's VoxEU.org blog argue, the only way to structure QE is on a proportional basis. The ECB would buy bonds in proportion to the size of each member's economy. For example, the ECB would buy 18% of its bonds from Germany, which makes up 18% of the Eurozone.
According to VoxEU.org, each country will get back what they pay in to the ECB in interest. As the ECB receives interest payments, it will return them to each nation's treasury in much the same way the Federal Reserve returned interest to the U.S. Treasury during its QE programs. If a weaker country defaults, the ECB simply won't return that payment. This will have no effect on Germany. It won't be a program of euro redistribution.
The specifics aren't yet clear. That's why the next two days are so crucial. Not only will we see the ECB's next move with its policy statement. We'll also see Davos host substantive discussions on the Eurozone.
We'll see sessions entitled "Europe's Twin Challenges: Growth and Stability" tomorrow, and hear speakers like Wolfgang Schäuble, the German federal finance minister. This is exactly what they should be talking about at Davos.
What's Next for the Ailing Euro: Right on the heels of the Swiss National Bank shock comes a policy meeting of the European Central Bank. With the euro reeling, the big question is whether ECB President Mario Draghi will launch some kind of U.S. Federal Reserve-style quantitative easing (QE). And if he does, there's a way for investors to profit...