Snow and plummeting temperatures have set the atmosphere for a bleak annual Davos economic and political forum of world leaders - with even Rolling Stone Mick Jagger giving the event the two-finger salute.

Forty heads of state have been gathering in the Swiss Alps resort to debate the eurozone, Syrian crisis, escalating tensions with Iran and the very future of capitalism.

But Jagger snubbed an invitation to attend a patriotic tea party to back Britain, fuming that he was "being used as a political football".

Prime Minister David Cameron, who would host the party, was due to address delegates but leaders from Greece, Italy, Spain, three of the hardest-hit eurozone countries, were not expected to attend. Major business leaders Bill Gates and Oxfam chief executive Barbara Stocking were among those attending the summit.

With the US and the EU focusing on their own economic struggles, broader discussions would cover deeper philisophical issues. Is 20th Century Capitalism Failing 21st Century Society? was one scheduled topic

But discussions between politicians and businessmen were likely to be tense as a survey by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers highlighted how little confidence business bosses have in leaders.

Results showed that out of the 1,258 company bosses interviewed, 48 per cent expected further economic decline while only 15 per cent forecast growth this year.

Up to 5,000 Swiss soldiers were being deployed over the five-day event as anti-capitalists activists planned protests.