If Americans don't start buying a lot of stuff again, can the world economy be saved? What's the global Plan B? These are fundamental questions at the summit of the Group of 20 industrialized and developing nations in Pittsburgh.
In previous global downturns, Americans have come to the rescue, getting out their credit cards and buying up what the rest of the world produces. "Our spending is currently equal to the entire economies of China and India added together and then doubled," as Fareed Zakaria has pointed out, representing the single biggest chunk of the world economy.