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View Full Version : G20 leaders are good for nothing



BrilloPad
13th March 2009, 21:41
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/simonheffer/4986792/G20-leaders-are-good-for-nothing.html

G20 leaders are good for nothing
If the world's richest countries are looking for ways to save money they could start by cancelling this futile summit, says Simon Heffer.

At a time when our public finances are in a state of catastrophe, it is right to look for savings. And an obvious place to start would seem to be the cancellation of the G20 meeting of the world's supposedly richest economies, scheduled in London in three weeks' time. After all, it is now apparent that this circus – estimates of the cost of which seem to range from £20 million to £50 million – is going to achieve nothing.

This looked to be the case from the moment it was planned, given that the governments that got us into this mess are the last people you would ask to get you out of it: it is a bit like an alcoholic deciding to switch from whisky as the boisson du choix to Bacardi Breezers. But once Barack Obama, late on Thursday, let it be known that he was not expecting any particular "commitment" to be issued at the end of the meeting, it became absolutely clear that the enterprise was doomed.

The one thing that unites all the governments of the developed nations is that each thinks all or most of the others are incompetent. Gordon Brown started this trend by claiming that our own crisis was imported from America (and he wonders why he had such a lukewarm reception when he went there last week). The French blame the failure of Anglo-Saxon capitalism, lumping us in with the Americans as villains of the piece. And the Germans seem to blame everybody else for having a delinquent approach to finance and a dependent-relative mentality towards the one true economic power left on earth – the Germans. And thus it goes on.

So the hope of any agreement – even if President Obama had wanted one – was pretty remote. More to the point, the President has made it quite clear that he is going to plough his own furrow, and the rest of the world can like it or lump it. He is not new in taking this attitude to an economic problem that Mr Brown says can only be solved by concerted, global action.

The Germans, who have a history of starting international conflicts, instituted this frame of mind last September when European finance ministers met to discuss the banking crisis. Sensing not just that no other country had a clue what it was doing, but also that Germany was about to be touched for a vast sum of money to help with a bail-out, they headed back to Berlin and sensibly did their own thing.

There does not need to be a meeting to sort out what has to be done. What is needed is the stimulation of demand. This will be assisted by a shift in resources from the public to the private sector – in other words, huge tax cuts for businesses and individuals.

With interest rates already insanely low, and risking massive inflation in two or three years' time, this is the only option. It is up to other countries whose exports are collapsing – like China or the eurozone – to work out that their currencies might be grotesquely over-valued, and to do something about it. But equally, it is up to countries in the West to admit that they have been living way beyond their means for years, and to tighten their belts and adjust expectations accordingly.

None of this requires a meeting: it requires individual governments to shrink the size of their operations, and to make the philosophical decision to enable enterprise to lead a recovery. Instead, our state remains bloated, and even the Opposition seems entrenched in the view that only state action – such as nationalising banks, printing money and organising the debauch of the currency – can rescue us from this. I have always suspected that Mr Brown wanted this G20 meeting not merely to create a further illusion of activity, but to try to enlist other nations in his defence of the indefensible. Instead, as Mr Obama seems now to have indicated, it really is every man for himself – and probably just as well.

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In other words : bring back Maggie!

OwlHoot
13th March 2009, 22:50
When Labour took over in 1997, Britain was 6th richest country in the world (maybe 7th, but certainly in single digits).

I'm sure I read somewhere recently that we've now slipped right down the rankings to about 70th. If so, what the hell are we doing hosting a "G20" summit (for the richest 20 nations, hence its name), with Gordon Borrown basking in the limelight? :mad

Gonzo
14th March 2009, 10:23
When Labour took over in 1997, Britain was 6th richest country in the world (maybe 7th, but certainly in single digits).

I'm sure I read somewhere recently that we've now slipped right down the rankings to about 70th. If so, what the hell are we doing hosting a "G20" summit (for the richest 20 nations, hence its name), with Gordon Borrown basking in the limelight? :madI'm not sure where you read that.

According to the IMF*, the UK's GDP is fifth in the world and GDP per capita is 20th.

I don't wish to stick up for Gordon, but do want to see him damned fairly. :rolleyes:


*OK, I got the information from Wikipedia, but you can have a look at it too linky (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)_per_capita) (SFW)