The annual gathering of political, economic and government leaders comprising the World Economic Forum has opened in Davos, Switzerland.  VOA's Barry Wood reports from the Swiss ski resort that participants are buzzing about the fear of recession and the dramatic falls in world equity markets.

At an opening press conference, the co-chairmen of this year's meeting expressed disparate views about the economic outlook and financial market volatility.  David O'Reilly, the head of the Chevron Oil Company, said fears of global recession are unwarranted.

"The United State economy will correct itself, and perhaps even more quickly than people realize," he said.  "It is a pretty big, and a resilient economy.  I also subscribe to the view that it is not going to impact the rest of the globe, maybe as much as it has in the past."

O'Reilly suggested that the news media is making too much of the current turmoil.

KV Kamath is the head of ICICI Bank in India.  He says the market declines that began in the United States two weeks ago have had little impact in India.

"I think to some extent, at least from the Indian context, as of now we are not seeing any significant impact, but it is [too] early to say," he said.

The U.S. banker co-chairing this year's forum is James Dimon, the chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase in New York.

"We have had financial crises every five years for the past 100 years.  And they all come from a different nature and a different source.  And they have all been resolved," he noted.

Fred Bergsten, the head of an economic research agency in Washington, says because fast-growing China and India are not excessively reliant on exports to the U.S. market, it is inconceivable that a global recession will occur this year.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair said he expects this meeting to focus on ways of further integrating dynamic East and South Asia into the world economy.

"There is a whole dimension to the Davos debate now that is very much centered around the role of China and the role of India, and also the other emerging economies," he explained.

Blair said global power is shifting to East and South Asia.