The uncertain state of the G8

10 07 2009

Obama G8 ItalyCompared with the drama of the G20 in April, the G8 meeting in Italy is a curiously muted affair. At the end of course there will be, as there always is, a joint statement from all involved saying something anodyne they can all agree with. But the overriding feeling coming out of the meeting is of drift.

The leaders gathered together on the site of an earthquake are themselves a curious bunch. For a start the G8 does not include China or India, the two most economically dynamic countries in the world, although the leaders of both countries were there to start with. It  includes countries whose presidents are both hugely popular at home, Obama being one and Berlusconi, for unfathomable Italian reasons, the other. Also present by contrast is Gordon Brown, currently on political death row. Whatever their individual current strengths or weaknesses  the problems they, and we , face were clearly contentious.

Firstly on the economy, there were no concrete proposals nor any clear agrement on what if any steps need to be taken to help the world out of recession. The G8 in this area resembles a group of generals who have sent their troops out to fight and are waiting for news from the front. There is an unmistakable feeling that everything that could be done has been done and now it is time to wait and hope for an upturn. Meanwhile the real underlying tensions between the debtor countries and those supplying the credit continue to simmer away.

Secondly, the debate over global warming is following a similar pattern. The main developing countries are objecting to pressure to cut emissions in a way that would hinder their economic growth. This issue is rapidly becoming a source of protectionist pressures in the US which reflects broader tensions between the US and China.

Altogether the world’s leaders look unsure and uncomfortable about how to deal with both the near term and longer term problems facing the world.



2 responses

10 07 2009

Do we really need the ‘butcher’s apron’ in the masthead of this blog? Surely I’m not the only one who feels irked by it?

11 07 2009

Their opinion may be that everything that can be done has been but the truth is the opposite. Nothing whatsoever has been done to cut the overarching costs of government. Nothing whatsoever has been done to make economies more compretitive. Indeed the opposite has been true – government spending & regulation are both rising sharply to choke off the small portion (25%) of the economy that isn’t government spending or regulation.

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