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Economics Elite Gather in Switzerland

WEF founder, Klaus Schwab opens a session of the "Social Forum" at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, 25 Jan 2011
WEF founder, Klaus Schwab opens a session of the "Social Forum" at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, 25 Jan 2011

Slow economic recovery in the West and rising powers in the East are likely to dominate discussions at the World Economic Forum, an annual gathering of the rich and powerful that starts Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland.

There is plenty to worry about for the heads of state, business leaders and celebrities attending one of the year's most high-profile events - the five-day World Economic Forum at the Swiss resort of Davos.

Davos organizers made that clear this month in their Global Risks Report,  which identifies about three-dozen problems confronting our planet today - from climate change to geopolitical conflict, migration and government debt.

"The world has never been confronted with so many complex challenges at the same time," said Swiss economist and World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab. "And, so the role of the annual meeting is not just to address all those challenges but to provide a systemic, strategic overview about what's important on the global agenda and if possible come up with solutions," he said.

Emerging powers China and India are expected to be among the top subjects on the agenda - with underlying concerns about inflation in China and trade and currency imbalances between Beijing and the West.  Simon Tilford, chief economist at the London-based Center for European Reform, expects the slow economic recovery in the United States and Europe will also dominate discussions.

"The eurozone crisis is clearly going to dominate to a certain extent. I think the underlying concern is going to be the persistent weakness of [the economic] recovery in the U.S. and in Europe - and concerns about overheating in China," said Tilford.

The 2,500 participants expected at Davos include some 35 heads of state and executives of 1,400 top businesses.  Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the scheduled keynote speaker, has postponed his arrival following Monday's suicide bombing at a Moscow airport.

Other scheduled speakers include French President Nicolas Sarkozy who is expected to outline his goals for the French presidency of the G20.  He offered a preview, Monday, during a news conference in Paris.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mexican President Felipe Calderon and South African President Jacob Zuma are also expected at Davos.  

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