Trump team shunning Davos meeting of world's economic elite

Mr Donald Trump won't send an official representative to the annual gathering of the world's economic elite in Davos.
Mr Donald Trump won't send an official representative to the annual gathering of the world's economic elite in Davos.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Mr Donald Trump won't send an official representative to the annual gathering of the world's economic elite in Davos, taking place this week in the days leading up to his inauguration, although one of the US president-elect's advisers is slated to attend.

A senior member of Mr Trump's transition team said the president-elect thought it would betray his populist-fueled movement to have a presence at the high-powered annual gathering in the Swiss Alps.

The gathering of millionaires, billionaires, political leaders and celebrities represents the power structure that fueled the populist anger that helped Mr Trump win the election, said the person, who asked for anonymity to discuss the matter. 

Former Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn, a regular attendee in the past, told the group he would skip the meeting after being named in December to head the US National Economic Council, said people familiar with the conference. Other top Trump appointees will also pass up the forum.

Hedge fund manager Anthony Scaramucci is planning to travel to Davos though. The founder of SkyBridge Capital and an early backer of Mr Trump's campaign was named on Thursday (Jan 12) as an assistant to the president.

Mr Scaramucci, who has attended the forum several times, made plans before being selected for the White House team and is travelling in an unofficial capacity, said Trump spokesman Hope Hicks.

The forum schedule lists him on a Jan 17 panel that will cover "the priorities, challenges and opportunities for the incoming government of the United States" and identifies him as an executive member of Trump's transition team.

"Anthony Scaramucci has been a long-standing participant at the annual meeting, and as such has been registered to attend since last spring," Mr Paul Smyke, head of the North America World Economic Forum, said in a statement.

Mr Scaramucci will depart in time to attend Mr Trump's swearing-in on Jan 20.

Political adviser Rebekah Mercer is also registered to attend. A major Republican donor, she is a member of Mr Trump's transition team and has been influential in helping to hire senior staff, but doesn't have an official role in the incoming administration.

During the campaign, Mr Trump labelled his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, as "a globalist" and portrayed himself as a champion for the working class fighting an unfair economic system. Since the election, Mr Trump, who will be the nation's first billionaire president, has nominated for his Cabinet two billionaires and about a dozen millionaires.

Many in the upper ranks of his administration are from the world of finance, including several who have worked for or who have ties to Goldman Sachs, the investment bank singled out for criticism during the Republican's campaign.

A study by the World Economic Forum released ahead of the Davos gathering concluded that the weak economic recovery following the global financial crisis of 2008-09 has widened the gap between rich and poor, fueling a sense of "economic malaise" that's led to the rise of populist parties.