Inequality the hot early topic at Davos

Media coverage from the World Economic Forum in Davos is so far focusing on inequality between the "haves" and "have-nots" as income and quality of life disparity loom large as 2012 political issues.

Media coverage from the World Economic Forum in Davos is so far focusing on inequality between the “haves” and “have-nots” as income and quality of life disparity loom large as 2012 political issues.

Mark Penn, worldwide CEO of Burson-Marsteller, told the Associated Press that the economic environment has “raised larger questions about how is capitalism working, and how do you redefine fairness in the 21st Century.”

David Rubenstein, cofounder and managing director of asset management firm the Carlyle Group, told the AP earlier that “we've got to work through these problems, if we don't do that in three or four years…the game will be over for the type of capitalism that many of us have lived through and thought was the best type.”

Bloomberg reported that 70 billionaires are attending the event, along with 2,500 other business and political leaders. Nearby, but not on the guest list to some of the swankier parties, are Occupy protesters braving the wintery conditions at “Camp Igloo.”

Executives at Davos also gave President Barack Obama's State of the Union address mixed reviews. WPP Group CEO Martin Sorrell said it was a “very good political campaign and I think probably heightens the probability that he will be reelected in November,” according to Reuters. However, John Studzinski, senior managing director of investment and advisory firm the Blackstone Group, told the news service, “I don't think any presidential election in the history of America has been won on the politics of envy.”

Meanwhile, MarketWatch columnist Al Lewis noted that Edelman CEO Richard Edelman has an unenviable task revealing the 2012 edition of his agency's Trust Barometer to Davos attendees. “Edelman ought to be a big hit in Davos, showing some of the most powerful people in the world how untrustworthy they are deemed outside their gated communities,” he noted.

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