Alpine Powerfest

Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Alpine Powerfest

The rhetoric is sometimes shopworn and predictable. The outcome often falls far short of expectations. And some people are just plain annoyed by its earnest self-importance. But there can be no doubt that the Davos World Economic Forum is the weightiest annual meeting of global business and political leaders. Now in its 40th year, the winter gathering in a cozy Swiss mountain town brings together a remarkably diverse assortment of people, from academics and nonprofit heads to billionaires and celebrities, to discuss the most pressing issues of the day.

The theme of this year's event, held Jan. 27-30, is "Improve the State of the World: Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild." Click on for an introduction to 27 of the movers and shakers at Davos this year, listed in alphabetical order.