GENEVA — The annual World Economic Forum that begins today in Davos, Switzerland, is likely to be dominated by concerns that the sharp downturn of the U.S. economy, the world's largest, could trigger a global recession.
The gathering of world business and political leaders comes as the Federal Reserve, responding to an international stock sell-off on Monday, took emergency action on Tuesday to reduce the U.S. benchmark interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point.
"The risks of a significant slowdown, if not a recession, have been increasing," said Richard Samans, WEF managing director and a former economic policy adviser to President Bill Clinton.
Along with concerns over volatility in global financial and energy markets, the declining dollar and China's undervalued yuan, the agenda includes high oil prices and growing apprehension about the rapid growth and clout of sovereign wealth funds.
Climate change and terrorism, as well as corporate social responsibility, food and energy supply shortages, the emergence of economic powers such as China and India, and global trade problems also are on the table for the 2,500 forum participants.
About 27 heads of state and some 113 cabinet ministers from 88 countries, as well as more than 900 chief executives from the top global corporations are slated to take part in the five-day meeting, which has the theme, "The Power of Collaborative Innovation to Benefit Us All."
"The meeting gives us all a chance to understand and shape the global agenda for the year ahead and beyond," said Klaus Schwab, WEF founder and executive chairman.
Top officials from 74 Fortune 100 companies are among the guests.
National leaders include: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who will deliver a keynote address on "Climate Change and Terrorism;" U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Chinese Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan.
A series of high-level meetings are also expected to take place on the sidelines between the trade ministers of major trading powers such as Brazil, India, the European Union, the U.S., Egypt and Japan, on how to advance the stalled Doha global trade talks.
U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab and World Trade Organization director general Pascal Lamy are likely to take active roles on how to advance the problematic global trade negotiations.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast