Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Group of Twenty

By Carol Gee

The G-20 is hosted by the United Kingdom in 2009, and it consists of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. They met Saturday in Horsham in southern England. Membership includes:

The G20 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 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.

Working groups -- the UK . . . has established four working groups to advance this work for the next Leaders Summit on 2 April in London. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was optimistic world leaders would reach an agreement at next month's G20 summit in London, despite signs of rifts between Europe and the United States. The workings groups focus on:

  1. Enhancing sound regulation and strengthening transparency

  2. Reinforcing international co-operation and promoting integrity in financial markets

  3. Reforming the IMF

  4. The World Bank and other multilateral development banks (MDBs)

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner issued a statement and a G-20 Fact sheet (pdf-4). Secretary Geithner's demand for larger stimulus packages from other countries was dropped in favor of language emphasizing the good cooperation among the countries. There was not yet a commitment to put more money into the International Monetary Fund. The meeting's news, according to the Saturday The New York Times, is generally neutral to positive. To quote:

Finance officials from rich and developing countries pledged to boost the role of the International Monetary Fund and make a ''sustained effort'' to restore global growth after a key conference that sought to bridge deep divisions on how to tackle the financial crisis.

The key priority must be restoring frozen bank lending through cash infusions and dealing with the shaky assets souring bank's balance sheets, the gathered finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 countries said in a statement at the end of talks in southern England.

The statement did not back a U.S. push for concrete, coordinated efforts for governments to spend more money to boost their economies. It acknowledged the importance of the stimulus efforts already in place, and called for stronger financial regulation.

Other news and views --BBC News has good coverage of the "nuts and bolts" of the gathering, including a Communique and Key Agreements. The story from China's point of view can be found at the China Daily. For the best in depth analysis of the meeting's modest outcomes, turn to the Financial Times, my favorite newspaper.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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