protectionism

U.S.-China tension was the underaddressed theme of Davos

February 2, 2010: 2:34 AM ET

Attendees of the World Economic Forum crave validation. Validation that they learned enough things or met enough people or conducted enough business to justify the time and expense of spending nearly a week in Switzerland. One form of validation, I've learned, is to confidently believe one understands the mood of the conference, which by inference is the mood of the world's elites regarding, well, the state of the world.

Candidates for topics of the conference that concluded Sunday in the Swiss ski-resort town of Davos include a commitment to alternative energy and climate-change mitigation; banker bashing and the fragile economy; and the rise of protectionism.

In my opinion, the most important topic was one that received relatively little direct commentary in Davos: the dramatically heightened tension between the United States and China.

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