Ill-fated G20 summit

The outcome of the G20 summit in London is looking rather bleak, as its objective is quite unattainable: The international economic slowdown requires a concerted effort that is much easier said than done. The fact that everyone is voicing strong opposition to protectionism means that the threat is probably more real than officials would like to admit. The crisis threatens, to a greater or lesser degree, every economy in the world and in this sense it is a common enemy. On the other hand, however, it has also highlighted the differences between the G20 countries. The London summit is, in fact, a first informal and fundamental effort at international governance and this group was chosen by Washington because it suited it best. The G7 group had too much of a Cold War balance of power and the addition of Russia, to make it G8, did little to redress this. Without the participation of the new emerging economic powerhouses (first of all China and to a lesser extent India and Brazil), any synchronized response to the crisis on a global level will be ineffective. US President Barack Obama is looking to rally the West so that, through it, America can preserve its hegemony with greater consensus and keep a lower profile. His policy, however, is being undermined by the Franco-German axis. Paris and Berlin demand that stringent supervisory measures are imposed on the market. Washington and London want to see more rescue packages to boost the international economy. These are two very different issues rather than different positions and both, in fact, are necessary. The reason why the G20 summit may come up empty is that the one side does not really want financial markets to be monitored while the other, and Germany especially, does not want to loosen its purse strings. So, not only is there no rallying of the West against the «others,» but the internal rift is actually stealing the show.

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