World elite gathers in Davos amid cautious optimism
By Richard Carter and Michael Mainville, AFPDAVOS, Switzerland--The world's political and business elite gather in the snow-covered resort of Davos from Wednesday, aiming to instill some confidence in the global economy amid tentative signs of recovery.
January 24, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
Some 45 world leaders will rub shoulders with around 2,500 lobbyists, journalists, captains of industry and economists in the picture-postcard Swiss ski resort for the five-day annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The 2012 meeting was dominated by the euro crisis and fears Greece could be forced out of the eurozone, but this year's gathering is marked by a feeling of cautious optimism the worst may be over.
Opening the meeting, WEF founder and host Klaus Schwab, 74, called on delegates to turn the corner on the eurozone debt woes that have tipped the region into a recession.
“My hope is that you come out of the meeting with a vision which goes beyond just crisis management as we have seen, a vision that is much more dynamic, not just crisis fighting,” Schwab said in his opening speech.
In a major survey released by financial services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers Tuesday on the eve of the meeting's official opening, chief executives said they were marginally more optimistic on the global economy.
Only 28 percent of CEOs said they expected the world economy to decline further in 2013, against 48 percent last year, while 52 percent expected it to remain stable.
But only 36 percent said they were “very confident” in their companies' growth prospects in the next 12 months, down from 40 percent last year and 48 percent in 2011.
Among the leaders set to address the forum are German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and Britain's David Cameron.
Other top speakers center-stage in the eurozone crisis are European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, who will speak on “challenges for the years to come,” and the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde.