Call For Unity Marks Economic Forum's Open

By: AP
By: AP

(AP) The head of the World Economic Forum called Tuesday for unity among companies and governments trying to steer a path clear of the global financial crisis.

Klaus Schwab's plea for global cooperation was echoed by the director of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development one day ahead of the Forum's annual bash in the Swiss Alps, which has taken on added significance this year as the world slides into recession.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Schwab said even those banks that helped create the economic problems many nations are now facing should be included in efforts to find a solution.

"Those people, and there are many of those here, have the feeling they are standing at a cliff and they may fall over at any moment," he said in Davos' Congress Center, where the five-day event will mainly be held.

"But those people are not only part of the problem. They are part of the solution," said Schwab, whose 2,500 guests this week include executives of debt-riddled banks such as Citigroup Inc., Bank of America and UBS AG. "We need a well-functioning financial community, we should not forget. Otherwise we don't have a well-functioning economy."

Over 40 heads of state will also be in Davos to discuss this year's theme of "shaping the post-crisis world" in fields such as energy, climate change and free trade. They include Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso.

But, underscoring the sober mood this year, some of the glitz has been scaled back and previous celebrity guests such as Angelina Jolie, Sharon Stone and Bono have not been invited.

Many have blamed less-regulated U.S.-style capitalism for the economic crisis, which started over bonds based on shaky American mortgages. Without directing his criticism at the United States, the head of the Paris-based OECD said Tuesday that simple greed was behind much of the crisis, and called on leaders meeting in Davos to "rewrite the rules of finance and global business."

"The pain and anguish of the current global economic crisis were caused by a series of massive failures in the heart of the world's most developed countries," said Angel Gurria, who will also be in Davos.

© MMIX The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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