Via the Business Standard, an Indian news source: Davos looks at global risks. Avian flu, we learn, is less of a threat than American consumers spending a little less.
China, for all its new prosperity, worries about the income gap between the rich coastal region and the poor western provinces, plus overcapacity in the manufacturing sector. (This is probably just God having His little joke at the expense of Marx, Lenin, and Mao.)
Terrorism also worries the business community, and H5N1 came up almost as as afterthought:
The dangers arising out of the spread of the avian flu pandemic also came up as a risk and participants at a session were critical of the role of media in spreading unconfirmed information, magnifying the problem and thereby leading to mass panic.
"An infodemic immune system has to be developed so that people can become better consumers of information," he said. There was a suggestion to form alliances among governments, international agencies, companies, civil society and media to deal with a pandemic. Who should bear the costs of managing such risks?
This issue was discussed at another session too, where the involvement of the government in providing for insurance cover was hotly debated but no conclusions emerged.
Mass panic? More like a collective vegetative coma. Triggered by hysterical media coverage? When you really look at NewsNow or Google Health, you see maybe four or five new stories every day, repeated ad infinitum across the planet.
And an "infodemic immune system" would be the last thing the business world wants. If consumers started ignoring all the advertising, the global economy would implode overnight.
If the captains of 21st-century industry are such dimwits, we have more to worry about than mere avian flu.