In truth, the globalization long championed at Davos has turned out to be something of a mixed bag.
There's no doubt it's been a big plus for hundreds of millions of people in Asia and Latin America who have been lifted out of poverty and the millions in those regions who have joined the global middle class. And, despite some unpleasant moments in 2008, globalization has enhanced the wealth and stature of the financial, technological and philanthropic elite that have turned Davos into their playground.
For the rest of us, though, you'd have to say it's been something of a disappointment. Rapid globalization is associated with relatively stagnant incomes, rising inequality and, most notably, gut-wrenching economic instability. The Mexican peso crisis, the Asian financial meltdown, the dot.com debacle and the bursting of the recent credit bubble - you don't need a PhD in economics to see the correlation between the dramatic rise in cross-border activity and the increased frequency and severity of booms and busts.
In reading through last week's dispatches from Davos, it seemed that even the high priests of globalization acknowledge that the search for a satisfying and sustainable global equilibrium remains elusive.
On the outlook for the next several years, the consensus seemed to be that we now have a tripartite global economy, with growth in the developing countries of Asia running at more than 7 percent, growth in Japan and most of Europe remaining painfully sluggish at below 2 percent, and with the United States and much of the Americas falling somewhere in between.
The problem with this arrangement and its wide disparities is that is looks to be highly unstable.
Although developing countries are beginning to shift toward selling more goods and services to their own populations, they remain highly dependent on sales of manufactured goods to wealthy nations where incomes won't be growing and the emphasis will be on paying down excessive levels of debt and caring for aging populations. Unless developing countries can reorient their export machines toward selling to each other - a possibility, yes, but not a certainty - the robust growth of the past two years will be hard to sustain.
Moreover, some of the recent growth in developing countries results from a surge of foreign capital flowing into those nations. Some of that flow is longer-term investments made by individuals, banks and corporations from wealthy countries who see bigger returns in the developing world. Not only does this have the effect of slowing growth in their own countries even further, but it also is helping to stoke investment bubbles through much of the developing world.