The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression hovered over the opening of the 1,000-member World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as business leaders debated state-led bailouts and worried that efforts to counter climate change would fall by the wayside.
Politicians, well-heeled business leaders and well-meaning activists and celebrities gathered under a pall of gloom that has seen fortunes trimmed, companies shuttered and thousands jobs lost.
People are “depressed and traumatized,” Rupert Murdoch, chief executive of News Corp., noted, adding that worldwide some “$50 trillion of personal wealth” had vanished since the crisis worsened.
“The size of the problem confronting us today is larger than in the 1930s,” said billionaire philanthropist George Soros.
Some of the biggest players contributing to the economic slide stayed away, some of them bankrupt or fired. So did top economic policy-makers in U.S. President Barack Obama’s new administration.
Previous years saw a raft of A-list star power — Claudia Schiffer, Angelina Jolie and U2 frontman Bono. This year it’s Peter Gabriel and film star Jet Li.