Thursday, 2 April 2009

This G20 Summit

History teaches us that is it not very often where two or more countries agree on something, that each country will act upon what was agreed on in exactly the same way. In the G20, there are 19 countries and the European Union, which itself is a political union of 27 member states, only four of which are represented independently in the G20. The way I see it, this is a hodge-podge of diverging interests and it seems clear that no form of consensus can ever be achieved in actuality, although on paper the final communique to be produced at the end of this summit will undoubtedly purport that there has in fact been consensus. Recent political history is replete with examples of agreements made on paper, on which are conferred as many different interpretations as there are signatories to the agreements.

The very nature of the G20 itself is such that there can and should be no disagreement. Yet, even before the meeting began it was well known, with regard to regulatory reform, that there was a split between the Anglo Saxon capitalist model of the UK and the USA on the one hand, and the more interventionist European model of Germany and France. Indeed, France's Monsieur
Sarkozy even threatened to walk out if no firm measures were taken to rein in the banks and hedge funds.

Gordon Brown's brainwave of a fiscal stimulus, a major new initiative to kick start the various economies has come up against a solid roadblock. Angela
Merkel, and not her alone, has firmly indicated that she has no intention of letting the G20 write her national budget. Not to mention the recent cutting words of Brazil's Lula da Silva, blaming white blue-eyed males for the financial crisis. All in all, I expect little more than rhetoric from this summit, as opposed to solid and detailed figures. The rhetoric will lean towards highlighting the benefits of concerted international effort in dealing with the financial crisis, but few commitments will be obtained from governments, if at all.

Methinks that one positive outcome of this summit will be the formalisation of the shift of the balance of power from the traditional economic powers like the US, Japan, Germany and the UK, to the newer players like China and India. And particularly in relation to the issue of voting rights in the IMF, taking into account the fact that an enlarged role for the IMF inevitably carries a substantial price tag, a burden that the traditional powers will not be terribly keen to shoulder in the present economic situation.

While trying not to get bogged down with all this economic stuff that we have been bombarded with recently, most Londoners are basking in the limelight of
Obamamania. Many know that there are several heads of government in town, but everyone, including the almighty BBC are following Obama around. Its almost like an Obama state visit. And Michelle, she's grabbing all the headlines.


C'est moi said...

I TOTALLY agree with your analysis,you know...From agreements,treaties & consensuses from "collaborative" efforts from the Kyoto accord to the nuclear disarmament non-proliferation treaty down to Nigeria's much touted 7-point agenda,it's always all talk,lots of paper and no action with our world leaders,sad to say...

Oh and about Michelle,even though i absolutely love her(& up until today thought she could do no wrong in my eyes),i was twice absolutely mortified at what she wore..first,on her visit to the Queen & then today,that awful blue cardigan!..she needs to fire her stylist i think!!

Anengiyefa said...

C'est moi, youre spot on with Michelle Obama's dress sense. Its shocking that even the editor of UK Vogue was today publicly showering praise on what I thought of as an absolutely hideous dress that she was wearing. I think her stylist needs to come over to Europe for a crash course, you know, Paris or Milan or something