Ali’s blog

Mostly quant stuff with occasional digressions

The G20: What Really Mattered

Posted by alifinmath on April 2, 2009

Forgive me if I have a somewhat blase and cynical opinion of these summits and conferences. The lofty proclamations, the soaring rhetoric, the various photo-ops, the fancy limos and waiting jets. I’m more interested in what the “leaders” had for dinner. In the Guardian:

The politicians and their wives will begin their meal at Downing Street with a starter of organic Scottish salmon served with samphire and sea kale, and a selection of vegetables from Sussex, Surrey and Kent.

For the main course, Oliver has plumped for slow-roasted shoulder of lamb from the Elwy Valley in north Wales, with Jersey Royal potatoes, wild mushrooms and mint sauce.

Dessert will be an old teatime favourite – bakewell tart and custard.

Nothing so tasty for the protesters, I’ll warrant. Ah well, the prerogatives of power.

Sarkozy had the cojones to say some things which urgently needed to be said, and he was backed up by Merkel. Again in the Guardian:

In a day of breathless diplomacy in London, ranging across arms control and financial capitalism, Brown and Barack Obama emphasised a developing convergence, only for Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, to lay down “non-negotiable red lines” on issues such as hedge funds and tax havens which they insisted had to be met today and not deferred until future gatherings. The belligerent tone jarred as it came hours after Brown, standing side by side with Obama in the gilded splendour of the Foreign Office, had declared that the leading countries were hours away from securing a deal to reform the global economy.

Far from rowing back from the aggressive posturing which Sarkozy had adopted before flying to London, the French leader resumed the theme, saying this was no time for making “fancy speeches” and dismissing the idea of a summit later in the year. Speaking at a Knightsbridge hotel, he said he trusted Obama, but he blamed America, saying: “The crisis didn’t actually spontaneously erupt in Europe, did it?”

The German leader joined in. “This is a historic opportunity afforded us to give capitalism a conscience, because capitalism has lost its conscience and we have to seize this opportunity,” she said.

Seems like Obama and Brown are trying to inject some life into no-holds-barred Anglo-American finance capitalism, and the continental Europeans want no part of it. Well, I reluctantly have to give Sarkozy credit for speaking up. And before I forget, I should also give credit to the Czech President for also speaking up some days ago.

The US is exporting its problems and worthless dollars to the rest of the world. A well-informed piece by Michel Hudson can be found here.

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