As political leaders and finance ministers from 20 of the world's most important economies convene in Seoul, South Korea, for the Group of Twenty (G20) summit, they will discuss a number of high-stakes challenges that face both individual member states and the global economy that they lead. Ongoing recessions, which persist in the U.S. and in Europe especially, will be a predominant issue. So will the rise of India and China, tense currency disputes, and trade imbalances. The top finance officials from the U.S., Singapore, and Australia signed an op-ed column in the Wall Street Journal arguing that global economic recovery will continue only with full cooperation at G20. Here's what global financial experts have to say.
- Obama Seeks Leveling of Trade Imbalances The New York Times' Sewell Chan and Sheryl Gay Stolberg report that Obama "implored other world leaders on Wednesday to shift global economic demand away from its historic reliance on American consumption and borrowing. ... But it remained to be seen whether China and Germany, the world’s two most powerful surplus economies, would take steps to curb their reliance on exports and their high rates of savings and to increase their relatively low consumption, as American officials argue is needed."
- ...But American Financial Policies Causing Tension Chan and Stolberg add, "Obama tried to calm the currency tensions that have roiled global economic relations, though he did not mention by name the two most prominent sources of the tension: China’s foreign-exchange interventions and the Federal Reserve’s recent decision to inject $600 billion into the economy. ... Officials from [China and Germany] unleashed stinging criticism of the Fed, accusing the United States central bank of essentially playing tricks with its economy to prop up a flagging recovery. Mr. Obama’s letter indirectly defended the Fed."
- India's Big Opportunity The Wall Street Journal's Paul Beckett writes, "[Indian Prime Minister Manmohan] Singh is in pretty much a unique position to get things back on track. India is not a major exporter on a par with Japan or Germany, but its economy is growing at the second-fastest rate of all the major economies after China so it doesn’t come to the meeting seeking help. Its financial system held up well during the crisis and it is sufficiently stable that it doesn’t need to engage in the competitive currency devaluations that are happening elsewhere. Indeed, the Reserve Bank of India’s last move was to raise interest rates to combat inflation."
- Poverty's Challenge and Opportunity Jamie Metzl and Zachary Karabell write in the Japan Times, "far more must to be done to unlock the tremendous human and economic potential of the world's 1.4 billion people living in dire poverty and without meaningful opportunity. Nine million children die each year before reaching their fifth birthday; 69 million school-age children are not in school; 884 million people have no access to safe drinking water; and 2.6 billion lack access to basic sanitation. Educating and empowering poor and disadvantaged groups around the world, including women, is not only a moral imperative, it is also one of the best investments in long-term, sustainable growth that world leaders can possibly make. G20 nations must take the lead in making this happen."
- Building International Regulatory Structures Econoblogger Yves Smith writes, "The latest idea out of the G20, that of creating an international regulatory structure for the biggest international banks, sounds like progress but I doubt it will prove to be. ... The biggest firms have trading books that they manage on a global basis, and Citibank had a global payments business that would be very hard to house in nation-based banking regimes. But quite a few businesses can be hived out and operated on this basis (retail and institutional lending, private equity, for starters) and any steps to build more buffers in the banking system and make it easier to wind down banks would be a considerable step forward."