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Davos meeting: Gloomy about economy, worried about capitalism

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Anja Niedringhaus/AP

(Read caption) Protesters from the Occupy movement release a banner on the first day of the 42nd annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Some of the billionaires attending have expressed their own concerns about income inequality.

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If the annual gathering of world leaders, corporate chieftains, and economists in secluded Davos in the Swiss Alps is a good barometer of the global economic outlook, then the reading this year is gloomy.

The European debt crisis dominates the conversation, of course. But the outlook everywhere seems to suggest a global slowdown. "The global recovery is threatened by intensifying stains in the euro area and fragilities elsewhere,” concluded a report from the International Monetary Fund, which cut its 2012 forecast of world growth from 4 percent to 3.25 percent.

Beneath the gloom lies a broader worry among many participants that capitalism is failing to provide the widespread economic benefits that it used to.

"Capitalism, in its current form, has no place in the world around us," Al Jazeera quoted economist Klaus Schwab as saying. Mr. Schwab is founder of the World Economic Forum. The WEF's theme this year – The Great Transformation: Shaping New Models – may be adding to the angst.

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