As usual, 2,500 of the world's biggest players, with even bigger egos, all gathered in a secluded Swiss ski resort for the world economic forum.
Thursday morning's event kicked off with a session, titled "a unified Earth theory; combining solutions to extreme poverty and the climate crisis," moderated by — you guessed it — rock star humanitarian Bono and Nobel Laureate Al Gore.
They gave harsh and blunt statements about the increased need for international efforts to eliminate extreme poverty, and to solve the climate crisis. They accused Western developed nations of not doing enough.
Two hours later, Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf entered the center for a session entitled "Three crucial questions for the president of Pakistan."
One question many people were asking was, "Where is the rest of his security detail?" Though Davos, itself, is heavily secured with Swiss and other local police, all major world figures come with their own security entourages. Musharraf seemed to be accompanied by only two or three as he passed.
Meanwhile, the session itself, chaired by Henry Kissinger, got heated at times. Here's a forum press release on the session's details:
Davos, Switzerland, 23 January 2008 — President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan said today he will try to ensure the parliamentary elections on 18 February will be safe, as well as fair. But he also said international audiences should not judge Pakistan's political system by inapplicable standards.
He was taking part in a panel at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008 along with Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq Barham Salih and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan.
The session began with an expression of partnership and cooperation in resolving instability as Presidents Musharraf and Karzai shook hands on stage.
Musharraf told participants: "The election must be fair, free and transparent. And I have added a new word — we will make sure they will be peaceful."
Asked later about last year's firing of the chief justice of Pakistan's Supreme Judicial Court — the entity that would also resolve any questions about election fraud — Musharraf urged his audience not to impose on Pakistan "misperceived ideas of human rights or western views of human rights." He appealed, "Please look at Pakistan from Pakistan's eyes, and not from anybody else's eyes. We also believe in [these ideals], but give us some time," he added, pointing to a number of regulations his government instituted to ensure election fairness.
Musharraf and the other leaders stressed the importance of economic development in reducing extremism and fostering democracy.
Regarding security in Iraq, Salih noted positive developments in Anbar province. "I can say, for maybe the first time, Iraq is on the road to winning," he told participants.
While the overall talk of Wednesday night's dinner parties was the wild swing in the U.S. stock market, Thursday morning it was all about the $7 billion loss by Societe Generale.
Major hedge fund managers to global banking giant executives (such as the head of Goldman Sachs Europe) said they were thanking their lucky stars that this was not a problem they were waking up to.
Another major trading firm's CEO told me he woke up to an e-mail from his head trader, with the subject line reading, "don't worry, we didn't have much exposure to the bank."
The major question: how does the second largest bank in France not have the technology in its compliance and risk departments to detect these fraudulent activities?
As details came out, the 31-year-old rogue trader had, in fact, worked in the back offices, and was fully aware of the company's transaction security.
Still, at a time when transparency is key for all major financial institutions, this news came as a big surprise.
France's finance minister, attending the forum, called for tighter regulations following the announcement.
But the real news and interesting take-aways from Davos happen in between meetings, and after the sun sets.
Sitting on the sidelines, watching the diverse group of people schmoozing, chasing, and even avoiding others, is mind boggling.
As I sat for one 15-minute break late Thursday morning, Hamid Karzai walked by Mohammed Larijani; across the room, private equity titan Steve Schwarzman sips on coffee; and a bevy of Russian titans gather in a corner.
And then, there are the parties. Wednesday night's Forbes party was a slew of who's who — Michael Dell, NBC's Jeff Zucker, former Harvard president Larry Summers, and the star of the party — YouTube phenom Chad Hurley.
Talking Points — China and India will keep the United States out of a long-term recession. As for the U.S. presidential election: More than eight executives told me they would LOVE to see Bloomberg in the White House, given his business experience.
I was also told, but didn't see firsthand, that a certain Mrs. Google (Sergei Brin's wife) was outside the party, waiting by the bathrooms and asking people for their saliva — telling them they could get their genetic history in return. All of this for a biotech company she runs.
And a few blocks away — supermodel Naomi Campbell got into a chauffeured Benz after walking out of a restaurant, where, I'm happy to say, she was overly nice to the staff.