As has been noted, there's a more relaxed vibe at the 2011 World Economic Forum in Davos than there was last year, when the heads of big banks didn't even attend because they were afraid to "be seen skiing or with a drink in their hand." This year's attendees feel free not only to party but to speak their mind about restrictions the government put in place in the wake of financial reform, provided the conversation is off the record. What they did not take into consideration is that by Times reporting standards, "off the record" means that while the paper can't recount what you say, they can recount how you said it, at least according to a weird DealBook account of a panel starring executives from Goldman Sachs and Standard Chartered. "The tone of the off-the-record session seemed more confident and less contrite than in recent years," the paper reports, adding:
For at least one member of the audience, the bankers were a little bit too cocky. Phillip Thorpe, chairman of the Qatar Financial Center Regulatory Authority, said the banks were setting the stage for the next crisis.
“With no change, we can expect there will be another one,” Mr. Thorpe said afterward. Banks simply have to get used to taking less risk and earning lower returns, he said.
Those sentiments met with disdain from several of the bankers.
Whether that means they called Thorpe an asshole to his face or simply made obscene gestures is, of course, in the Times vault.