Arquivo de março 30, 2009

G-20 London Summit

Publicado: março 30, 2009 por Yogi em Capital, Culture, History, Tudo

Ministers speak to pressure groups

Jasmine Whitbread presents Gordon Brown with Save the Children's 'Children's Charter'

Ed Miliband, Energy and Climate Change Secretary, has met pressure groups involved with the London `Put People First’ march on Saturday 28th March, which aims to highlight concerns over the impact of the global crisis. `I think the kind of campaigning that people are engaged in today … is the kind of peaceful protest that is very much part of our society,’ he told the BBC


Strengthening the regulation of the global financial system

Banking regulation (ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images)Strengthening the regulation of the financial services sector is one of the objectives of the London Summit. The Road to the London Summit, included proposals for reshaping the global financial system – including to close regulatory gaps and the improve the management of risk. In the run-up to the Summit, measures to tackle some of these issues have been agreed in preparatory meetings.


Restoring lending: a framework for financial repair and recovery

House for sale in USA (Getty Images)

The credit crunch began in the autumn of 2007 because of the sub-prime housing crisis: banks began to realise they had lent a lot of money for buying homes to people who would not be able to repay it all. In the following months, growing fears about many of the assets banks had financed led the financial system to freeze up, leaving banks short of cash to lend. Confidence collapsed in the wider banking community and has yet to be restored, because the scale of the bad debts is still very hard to quantify.

Managing conflicts of interest at credit rating agencies

Managing conflicts of interest at credit agencies (Getty images)Credit rating agencies have come in for a lot of criticism since the start of the credit crunch, with many of the investments they rated as good credit risks plunging in value. The value of mortgage-backed securities with an AAA rating – supposed to be the lowest risk – fell 70 per cent between January 2007 and December 2008. This has raised questions about how they operate, which feed into the group of issues on the transparency of financial markets that is a subject for discussion ahead of the London Summit.

Low carbon recovery

Hybrid London bus (Getty images)Governments around the world have taken unprecedented action in response to the global financial crisis and the economic downturn. Understanding that a return to business-as-usual growth will leave them vulnerable to rising oil prices and the potentially catastrophic impacts of climate change, several have committed sizeable parts of their economic recovery packages to low carbon investments. Their aim is to ensure a resilient recovery that leads to steady and sustainable growth.

Macroeconomic policy coordination 

Part 2: The need for concerted monetary stimulus 

Cash register in a shop (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)The global economy is going through a pronounced contraction in demand. The International Monetary Fund forecasts that economic growth will expand by just 0.5% this year, the weakest since the Second World War. Some countries, particularly advanced ones, will see sharp contractions in demand and growth. For example the eurozone is expected to contract by 2.0%, the United States by 1.6%, the United Kingdom by 2.8% and Japan by 2.6%. Average economic growth in emerging and developing economies is expected to remain positive at around 3.3%. However, a number of key emerging economies are expected to experience a sharp slowdown compared to growth rates they have experienced in recent years. 


Protectionism - Foreign imports on a container ship (Getty Images)If there is one issue that unites many countries around the world, it is a fear that the financial crisis and the resulting economic downturn will lead to a rise in protectionism – measures to protect domestic producers from foreign competition. Protectionism in the 1930s was widely thought to have deepened and prolonged the Great Depression, which provided the impetus for decades of post-war free trade negotiations under the auspices first of Gatt (the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) and more recently the World Trade Organisation. 

Macroeconomic policy coordination

World currencies (LAURENT FIEVET/AFP/Getty Images)

Governments are now dealing with the deepest and most synchronised global recession for several decades. In this climate, authorities in different countries will need to use the full range of macroeconomic tools as part of the recovery.  As the crisis has unfolded there is increasing consensus among economists and Governments that fiscal policy has a key role to play in tackling the economic crisis.


Protection for the most vulnerable

Child refugees at a feeding station (SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)

Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank, has said that developing countries can be part of the solution for the global economic crisis, but they also need protection from its impact. In an interview with the Editor of the Financial Times, Mr Zoellick renewed the call he made before January’s meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos for the developed countries to create a ‘Vulnerability Fund’ to support the poorest and most vulnerable people around the world. 


Trade financing – the need to keep international trade flowing

Credit cards

Globalisation has meant that products made in one country are routinely shipped around the world to the customers who buy them or incorporate them in their products. Those customers will be reluctant to pay for goods until they have been delivered, while suppliers will be reluctant to send their products unless they can be certain of being paid. Roughly 90 per cent of world trade relies on some form of short-term credit, insurance or guarantee to keep the supply chain moving – most of it provided by banks. 


Reform of International Monetary Fund (IMF)

International Monetary Fund (IMF) building with flags (TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The IMF was born of the Bretton Woods discussions in 1944 and charged with overseeing the international monetary system and ensuring global economic stability. The organisation’s membership has grown dramatically from 29 members in 1945 to 185 members today. Whilst this growth is proof of the IMF’s central role in the international system, it has also been a continuous challenge to ensure that the organisation is fairly reflective of its ever-increasing membership.


Financial transparency

President Bush at the Washington Summit (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

The global economic crisis has exposed the need for action to enhance the stability and resilience of the global financial system. In April 2008, the Financial Stability Forum submitted to G7 finance ministers and central bank governors a comprehensive set of recommendations for addressing the weaknesses and strengthening the system.  A follow-up report in October reported on progress in implementation of the April report’s recommendations and identified several additional issues to be addressed. 

G20 Official Website

London Summit Official Website


What is the G-20

The Group of Twenty (G-20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors was established in 1999 to bring together systemically important industrialized and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy. The inaugural meeting of the G-20 took place in Berlin, on December 1516, 1999, hosted by German and Canadian finance ministers.


The G-20 is an informal forum that promotes open and constructive discussion between industrial and emerging-market countries on key issues related to global economic stability. By contributing to the strengthening of the international financial architecture and providing opportunities for dialogue on national policies, international co-operation, and international financial institutions, the G-20 helps to support growth and development across the globe.


The G-20 was created as a response both to the financial crises of the late 1990s and to a growing recognition that key emerging-market countries were not adequately included in the core of global economic discussion and governance. Prior to the G-20 creation, similar groupings to promote dialogue and analysis had been established at the initiative of the G-7. The G-22 met at Washington D.C. in April and October 1998. Its aim was to involve non-G-7 countries in the resolution of global aspects of the financial crisis then affecting emerging-market countries. Two subsequent meetings comprising a larger group of participants (G-33) held in March and April 1999 discussed reforms of the global economy and the international financial system. The proposals made by the G-22 and the G-33 to reduce the world economy’s susceptibility to crises showed the potential benefits of a regular international consultative forum embracing the emerging-market countries. Such a regular dialogue with a constant set of partners was institutionalized by the creation of the G-20 in 1999.


The G-20 is made up of the finance ministers and central bank governors of 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and also the European Union who is represented by the rotating Council presidency and the European Central Bank. To ensure global economic fora and institutions work together, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the President of the World Bank, plus the chairs of the International Monetary and Financial Committee and Development Committee of the IMF and World Bank, also participate in G-20 meetings on an ex-officio basis. The G-20 thus brings together important industrial and emerging-market countries from all regions of the world. Together, member countries represent around 90 per cent of global gross national product, 80 per cent of world trade (including EU intra-trade) as well as two-thirds of the world’s population. The G-20’s economic weight and broad membership gives it a high degree of legitimacy and influence over the management of the global economy and financial system.


The G-20 has progressed a range of issues since 1999, including agreement about policies for growth, reducing abuse of the financial system, dealing with financial crises and combating terrorist financing. The G-20 also aims to foster the adoption of internationally recognized standards through the example set by its members in areas such as the transparency of fiscal policy and combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism. In 2004, G-20 countries committed to new higher standards of transparency and exchange of information on tax matters. This aims to combat abuses of the financial system and illicit activities including tax evasion.  The G-20 also plays a signficant role in matters concerned with the reform of the international financial architecture. 

The G-20 has also aimed to develop a common view among members on issues related to further development of the global economic and financial system and held an extraordinary meeting in the margins of the 2008 IMF and World Bank annual meetings in recognition of the current economic situation. At this meeting, in accordance with the G-20s core mission to promote open and constructive exchanges between advanced and emerging-market countries on key issues related to global economic stability and growth, the Ministers and Governors discussed the present financial market crisis and its implications for the world economy. They stressed their resolve to work together to overcome the financial turmoil and to deepen cooperation to improve the regulation, supervision and the overall functioning of the worlds financial markets.


Unlike international institutions such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), IMF or World Bank, the G-20 (like the G-7) has no permanent staff of its own. The G-20 chair rotates between members, and is selected from a different regional grouping of countries each year. In 2009 the G-20 chair is the United Kingdom, and in 2010 it will be South Korea.  The chair is part of a revolving three-member management Troika of past, present and future chairs. The incumbent chair establishes a temporary secretariat for the duration of its term, which coordinates the group’s work and organizes its meetings. The role of the Troika is to ensure continuity in the G-20’s work and management across host years.

Former G-20 Chairs

  • 1999-2001 Canada
  • 2002 India
  • 2003 Mexico
  • 2004 Germany
  • 2005 China
  • 2006 Australia
  • 2007 South Africa
  • 2008 Brazil

Meetings and activities

It is normal practice for the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors to meet once a year. The last meeting of ministers and governors was held in São Paulo, Brazil on 8-9 November 2008.  The ministers’ and governors’ meeting is usually preceded by two deputies’ meetings and extensive technical work. This technical work takes the form of workshops, reports and case studies on specific subjects, that aim to provide ministers and governors with contemporary analysis and insights, to better inform their consideration of policy challenges and options.

Towards the end of 2008  Leaders of the G-20 Countries meet in Washington. See theDeclaration and action plan from the Washington Summit (PDF 72KB) . This meeting remitted follow up work to Finance Ministers. In addition to their November meeting in order to take forward this work in advance of the Leaders summit in London on 2nd April Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors will also meet in March 2009.  A deputies meeting will be held in February 2009 to prepare for the Ministers meeting. 

G-20 Events

Deputies Meeting 1st February 2009

Officials Workshop Financing for Climate Change 13th & 14th February 2009

Deputies Meeting 13th March 2009

Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting  14th March 2009

Officials Workshop on Global Economy  25th 26th May 2009

Officials Workshop on Sustainable Financing for Development June 2009

Deputies Meeting September 2009

Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting 7th & 8th November 2009

Interaction with other international organizations

The G-20 cooperates closely with various other major international organizations and fora, as the potential to develop common positions on complex issues among G-20 members can add political momentum to decision-making in other bodies. The participation of the President of the World Bank, the Managing Director of the IMF and the chairs of the International Monetary and Financial Committee and the Development Committee in the G-20 meetings ensures that the G-20 process is well integrated with the activities of the Bretton Woods Institutions. The G-20 also works with, and encourages, other international groups and organizations, such as the Financial Stability Forum, in progressing international and domestic economic policy reforms. In addition, experts from private-sector institutions and non-government organisations are invited to G-20 meetings on an ad hoc basis in order to exploit synergies in analyzing selected topics and avoid overlap.

External communication

The country currently chairing the G-20 posts details of the group’s meetings and work program on a dedicated website. Although participation in the meetings is reserved for members, the public is informed about what was discussed and agreed immediately after the meeting of ministers and governors has ended. After each meeting of ministers and governors, the G-20 publishes a communiqué which records the agreements reached and measures outlined. Material on the forward work program is also made public.

Work programme

by Paul Krugman

MIT Press, 1996

International Economics with the Brothers Grimm, or, Krugman Discovers Ideology

An ideology, in the classical Marxist sense of the word, is a body of thought about society, politics, economics, religion, etc., which members of a given class believe, not because there are any rational grounds for it, but because it is a reflection or “sublimate” of their way of life, and usually advances the common interests of members of the class. (When, as usual, the ideology of a dominant class is accepted by the subordinate classes, the latter suffer from “false consciousness” or “false understanding.”) To claim a doctrine is ideological is, thus, an undercutting maneuver, one which seeks to show the doctrine is unjustified, and probably but not necessarily false. (It was not until the Stalinist era that Marxists, and later others, began to speak of all general ideas, beliefs about society, etc., as ideologies.) In Pop Internationalism, a collection of his recent essays, Paul Krugman claims to have discovered an ideology in the classical sense: the doctrines of national competitiveness and globalization.These ideas are so much a part of conventional wisdom that there’s little need to explain what they are, but a brief reminder can’t hurt. Once upon a time, c. 1970, international trade grew like Jack’s bean-stalk, and became much, much bigger than it ever was before. Goods and capital now flowed freely across the globe, and some countries which opened themselves to foreign investment and thought of nothing but exports achieved spectacular growth. The old rules of classical and neo-classical economics took one look at the situation and shut all the windows in the ivory tower, because they clearly didn’t apply any more, if they ever did. Nations had now to actively compete against each other in the global market place, or stagnate, if they didn’t turn into toads, like, say, Chad. In particular, the lazy and feather-bedded workers in the rich countries had to either take lower wages and worse conditions, or find Rumpelstiltskins who’d teach them how to achieve massive productivity gains overnight, or see their jobs migrate to the poor and hard-working countries. Wise governments realized they should assist their national companies in competing with foreign rivals for the hands of the global markets, and make sure there were plenty of high-tech, high value-added jobs for their workers; indeed, some wise men called for active industrial policy and strategic trading, so that our country would win this race at the expense of all the others.

As I said, is now conventional wisdom, accepted everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to The Nation; I bought it for quite a while myself. Krugman shows it’s all hogwash, from start to finish, and not nearly so good a fairy tale as those in the Brothers Grimm. Trade, as a fraction of the world’s economies, is barely back at the level it attained in the late 1800s and early 1900s, before the Great War and the collapse of the first free trade regime: yet it was precisely in such circumstances that the original economic theory of international trade was formulated, and with special reference to Great Britain, always the most trade-dependent country, at that. (Foreign trade amounts, now, to something like 10% of America’s gross domestic product, but it was about 40% of Victorian Britain’s.) Moreover, trade is overwhelmingly between the rich countries — the average wage rate in America’s trading partners, adjusted for purchasing power, is about 90% of the US wage rate. Whatever happened to US manufacturing jobs, they were certainly not competed away by low-wage labor in Germany, Switzerland and Japan. (The most likely explanation — Krugman goes through some of the math — is that productivity in manufacturing continues to grow much faster than productivity in services, while demand for manufactured goods does not, so relatively fewer manufacturing workers are needed to supply that demand, and the surplus go into services; this accounts for why the same pattern is observed in the main US trading partners, as well. Krugman notes that the US labor movement having basically collapsed has something to do with this, too.) East Asian countries oriented towards exports have achieved massive rates of growth: but Krugman shows this can be accounted for by mobilization of resources (invest in infrastructure, train your labor force, get people out of subsistence farming and into cities and factories, etc.), with a very small residual, if any, to be explained by other factors (implying, among other things, that those growth rates cannot continue indefinitely, or be matched by countries which are already highly developed). It’s impossible for a country toreceive net foreign investment and run a trade surplus at the same time. It is simply not true that nations are in competition: companies are, but what is good for General Motors is not necessarily good for America, and the standard accounts of mutual gains from trade are demonstrably correct, or at least very nearly so.

And so on, and so on: essentially nothing in the conventional globalization-and-competitiveness stories is true. Given that this is so — and that, as Krugman shows, the people pushing globalization find it necessary to resort to hallucinatory statistics and even arithmetic errors to support it — the question naturally arises, where did such bad ideas come from, and why are they so well-entrenched?

Krugman identifies a number of purely intellectual sources of error at work here — mathematical illiteracy (John McCarthy is too generous; it is those who refuse to do algebra, not just arithmetic, who are doomed to talk nonsense); the incompetence of the economic profession in teaching and popular exposition (“What Do Undergrads Need to Know about Trade?”); the allure of the fallacy of composition (if one person getting a 10% raise has a 10% rise in income, surely everyone’s income must go up by 10% if we all get a 10% raise?); the desire to possess profound knowledge without profound effort in thinking. Others are rhetorical or stylistic: the competitiveness story sounds realistic and hard-headed, while gains-from-trade sounds abstract and nearly utopian; English-speaking countries have a century-long tradition of looking-with-alarm on the latest rapidly growing planned economy in the East. The most important causes, however, are social.

Nobody now in business remembers the old, pre-WWI free trade regime, so the current levels of trade look unprecedented, and are certainly not what was expected back when they were in business school. Companies must compete for markets and profits, often enough against foreign companies: those in business, and those who take their cues from them (that is to say, most of the political nation) generalize from this experience, and think that countries are like oversize corporations, and likewise engaged in competition, in zero-sum games. This is convenient for them to believe, since it not only justifies their positions and rewards — they’re the people who’re keeping us from winding up like Liberia, after all — but is also wonderfully handy for putting the screws to workers, dependent companies, governments, and even the executives themselves. It also gives governments a justification for implementing policies which are desired on other grounds (generally, something or other in favor of large corporations at the expense of the rest of the body politic), and Krugman provides a number of examples of the practice. As for the news media and lesser organs of opinion, ignoring for a moment the fact that they’re largely owned by large and diversified companies, and saying nothing of outright bribery and intellectual prostitution, competitiveness is a simple, readily understood story, easily tied to all manner of economic developments, and is more or less without vocal opposition. Some liberals favor the story because it can be twisted to provide a justification for things they want anyway, like industrial policy. (Krugman does not consider why belief in globalization is almost universal among my fellow leftists; the word “hegemony” comes uncomfortably to my mind.) A better instance of a contemporary ideology could hardly be asked for.

Krugman does not say that his critique of globalization uses the Marxist conception of ideology, or indeed any notion of ideology at all. Whether this is out of prudence (unlikely, considering the author), a failure to realize the source of the notion, or a lack of interest, I couldn’t say. In any case, he is quite successful in not only debunking the ideas of globalization and competitiveness, at least in anything like their usual form, but in discrediting their advocates as well. As usual, Krugman’s writing is excellent — in his own way, he’s as good a writer as Galbraith, though a much better technical economist — and his polemical force would have given those old bruisers Marx and Engels pause. Considering how large these issues have loomed recently (e.g., the American debate on NAFTA — a fine essay here shows it to be irrelevant to the US economically, but important as a foreign policy), this book would be worthwhile to any voter who prefers knowledge to plausible ignorance. It is, however, of particular interest to specialists in both recent socio-economic transitions, and in contemporary ideologies.

Disclaimer: Prof. Krugman was kind enough to look over this review for misrepresentations of his position, and explain that he does not consider himself a Marxist; but I have no stake, financial or otherwise, in the success of Pop Internationalism (heck, I didn’t even get a review copy).

xiv + 221 pp.; separate bibliography for each article; index. 
Debunking / Economics / Politics and Political Thought / Sociology 
Currently in print as a hardback, US$25.00, ISBN 0262112108 [buy from Powell’s], and as a paperback, US$10.00, ISBN 0262611333 [buy from Powell’s], LoC HF1359 K784