The Call

Davos: Talking U.S.-China, rumors about Egypt and the Google party

I sat down with my buddy Undersecretary of State Bob Hormats at the Morosani Posthotel. About 20 minutes in before his assistant received news that there had been an explosion in the building earlier, somebody set off a smoke grenade. Who knew? Security in the building was unruffled. That information didn’t change the conversation, which ...

I sat down with my buddy Undersecretary of State Bob Hormats at the Morosani Posthotel. About 20 minutes in before his assistant received news that there had been an explosion in the building earlier, somebody set off a smoke grenade. Who knew? Security in the building was unruffled. That information didn’t change the conversation, which was mostly U.S.-China, since he did a lot of the lifting to ensure that there were no sudden bumps in the road during last week’s Obama-Hu Jintao summit.

Later I was invited to speak at an exceptionally interesting (but off the record) dinner hosted by NYSE CEO Duncan Neiderhauer. There were 75 CEOs in attendance — KKR‘s Henry Kravis, Bank of America’s Brian Moynihan. Everyone actually stuck around until 10:30, leaving me entirely too buzzed to sleep, but really needing a few hours before a very early start.  I compromised with flybys to two of the "nightcap" dos that are the hallmark of the after 10 set.

How much changes in a few hours. All the Egypt tensions have taken a decidedly (and deservedly) large chunk of the attention at the forum, the policy types uneasily consumed, the business community curious. Rumors swirled around last night’s google party that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had fled the country were being circulated by a friend of opposition leader Mohammad El Baradei (clearly not true, but i heard it three times nonetheless). The vodaphone ceo confirmed that all internet traffic had been cut off (clearly true, but nice to hear directly from a source). A Turkish minister saying the Egyptians had it coming and that a greater turkish role in the region was necessary (clearly open to interpretation).

Personally, i can’t see Mubarak stepping down short of massive violence. But it’s a tough call. We’ll see.

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