Mics are seen on stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. / World Economic Forum
The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum kicked off Wednesday in the Alpine playground of Davos, Switzerland.
Some 2,655 business leaders, politicians, academics, billionaires, artists and would-be world-changers are attending the gathering in the mountain resort this year. More than 800 of them are from the U.S.
For the next three days, some of the world's most powerful and inspiring people will try to understand and debate key issues facing the world in 2013.
The action started Wednesday with an early-morning panel discussion on "the strategic shifts and transformational issues" affecting the global financial community.
JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon, Prudential Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam, the International Monetary Fund's Min Zhu, UBS Chairman Axel Weber, Paul Singer from Elliott Management and Andrey Kostin, representing Russia's VTB Bank, were on stage assessing the state of play on regulation and the financial crisis.
Dimon, who has built a reputation as America's best-known and most defiant banker, said his bank "was not a fair weather friend. We were there in good times and bad times for everyone, including nations." He also said what the banking industry needs is not "more regulation or less: you need good, strong, proper regulation." Dimon said: "Until we stop this binary argument, we're not going to get it right."
Former central banker, now chairman of Swiss-based bank UBS, Axel Weber, acknowledged the "excesses" of the past but said it is pointless to debate breaking up banks. Prudential CEO Thiam said, "We'll have a financial crisis again at some point, the question is how do we minimize the impact?"
The theme of this year's meeting is Resilient Dynamism, something Klaus Schwab, executive chairman and founder of the World Economic Forum, described for USA TODAY as "the ability to respond to the many global risks we currently face, and to seize the opportunities it provides."
British Prime Minister David Cameron likely put his own ability to be resilient and dynamic to the test Wednesday.
Shortly before jetting off to the Swiss ski resort to join German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and dozens of other heads of state, Cameron delivered a speech in London in which he promised to hold an in/out referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union if his Conservative Party wins the next general election.
In response to the speech, German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said, "Germany wants the United Kingdom to remain an active and constructive part of the European Unionā?¦But cherry picking is not an option." Expect more reaction to Cameron's speech from Davos and elsewhere over the next few days.
Russia was also in the spotlight.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev took to the podium Wednesday to talk through three priorities for Russia's economic future. Those scenarios are based on a report published Tuesday by the World Economic Forum.
Medvedev's talking points: 1) Potential for major shifts in the global energy landscape; 2) Russia's domestic institutional environment; and 3) Maintaining social cohesion.
During his speech, Russia's prime minister weighed in on oil prices, which are sitting around the $96-a-barrel level. They are "more or less optimal for consumers and producers," he said. "We're not interested in very high commodity prices, they hinder the development of the world and Russian economy."
Earlier, Medvedev was interviewed on Bloomberg TV, saying he would not run in Russia's next presidential election -- scheduled for 2018 -- against Vladimir Putin.
On the Madison Avenue beat, Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive officer of WPP, the world's largest advertising agency, outlined his current top worries for 2013: The U.S. deficit, Middle East, euro crisis, China's hard/soft landing, EU/Britain.
In what may be a Davos first, this year's event sees the arrival of a Major League Baseball star with the rumored presence of Derek Jeter. Both Reuters and Fox Business were reporting that the Yankees legend will be a guest Wednesday at a luncheon sponsored by Pepsi, which owns Gatorade. Jeter endorses Gatorade. See the logic?
On Twitter, The Daily Beast and Newsweek editor-in-chief Tina Brown tweeted: "Derek Jeter on @lancearmstrong, 'Should have admitted mistake and moved on.' He fooled everyone' @davos."
On Tuesday night, actress Charlize Theron accepted an award at the WEF's opening ceremony for her humanitarian work in the fight against AIDS. Speaking about the attendees at Davos this year she said, "I feel like I am getting smarter by osmosis."
Later Wednesday, South African President Jacob Zuma will participate in a panel that will look at how Africa's leaders can mitigate investment risk.
Other highlights Wednesday include a conversation with Harvard University Professor Larry Summers on the future of the American public sector and an event that will tackle the question of reform in China.
And in case you are wishing you were there: According to CNN, the average cost of attending Davos is $40,000.
That figure includes flights ($6,000), transfers ($9,000), hotel ($3,000), food ($2,000) and accreditation ($20,000).
It doesn't include snow boots, a winter jacket and thermals. The average temperature in Davos in January is about 21.1 degrees Fahrenheit, CNN reported, although it is a little warmer than that today at a balmy 36 degrees.
Copyright 2013 USATODAY.com
Read the original story: Davos 2013: Jamie Dimon, Russia, Derek Jeter, more