There have been mixed reviews around the world following the G-20 economic summit in London Thursday. While op-eds and editorials in some papers laud the increased IMF funding and the symbolic impact of the summit, others are viewing it as an abject failure. Kenya's Business Daily, for example, is not impressed. From the Daily:
The G20 has met but in terms of expectation, we are still in the woods with the global capitalist system stuck. The thinking is still archaic and there is no radical effort on the table to explore and perhaps overhaul the cracked system.
As one commentator said in these pages, the crew manning global trade doesn't have a clue on how to re-inflate sinking economies and whether Keynesian principles will hold. The talk on debt cancellation as part of a global stimulus package has been lost.
The G20 has a responsibility and a duty to push for reforms that can lead to a new economic order. At the moment they are pushing for protective measures with little regard to what happens to the developing nations. Such protectionism will surely lead to failure.
Similarly, the New York Times editorial board expresses dissatisfaction at what it views as a missed opportunity, especially given the gravity of the current crisis. From the Times:
In normal times we don't expect a lot from summit meetings. But with the global economy imploding, leaders at Thursday's meeting of the world's top 20 economic powers had an urgent responsibility to come up with concrete policies to fix the global financial system and restore growth. They fell short.
However, the UK's Daily Telegraph adopts a more sanguine outlook, noting the short-comings but lauding what it views as a valuable first step. From the Telegraph:
They came, they saw, they communiqued. Simply by turning up, leaders had already achieved more than a similar crisis summit in London in 1933. Franklin Roosevelt, then American president, stayed away and not long after the world was at war.
At least, though, these topics are being discussed. Arguably, the biggest problem of all was not addressed - the restructuring of economies, such as China's and Germany's, that have been too reliant on exports to over-consuming nations. So, the G20 in London produced no grand plan for recovery. But if the jamboree has a legacy, it may be that the optimistic tenor of the leaders' exchanges goes some way to restoring battered global confidence. It is good to talk.
Likewise, the Korea Times acknowledges progress at the summit, but insists that ameliorating the crisis cannot be left to the superpowers' hands alone. From the Times:
It is certainly good news that leaders of the Group of 20 nations narrowed their differences and reached a consensus on how to tackle the unprecedented global financial and economic crisis. At the G20 summit in London Thursday, the leaders agreed on a six-point plan to restore growth, repair the financial system, strengthen financial regulations, promote global trade and reject protectionism.
The global crisis cannot be overcome without closer cooperation between countries ― both advanced and developing nations. It is hard to find a solution at a single stroke. The world economy is expected to draw a new landscape in the crisis containment process. China has emerged as a major player at the G20 summit with its growing economic power and military clout. Pundits talk about a ``G2'' relationship between the U.S. and China. What's important is that economic superpowers cannot get over the crisis without the help of other countries.
And as a foil to Kenya's Business Daily, Canada's Globe & Mail applauds the G-20's proposals as a huge accomplishment, especially the huge injection to the International Monetary Fund. From the Globe & Mail:
Rather than trying to insist that national governments meet high spending or deficit targets, the G20's members agreed to triple the IMF's lending power to $750-billion (U.S.), to expand the IMF's 40-year-old currency, known as Special Drawing Rights, by $250-billion and to agree upon sales of IMF gold to help finance the world's poorest countries.
The fledgling group of economic powers is wise to work with, and reinforce, the 63-year-old IMF.