The London air outside is cold but refreshingly so. The road outside Crowne Plaza at St James near Buckingham Gate is empty but for a sudden buzzing cavalcade that seems to be carting G20 leaders who are busy with four things — meeting the US President Barack Obama, meeting UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, meeting the Queen and possibly meeting one another.
And from what we see as bystanders and vicarious observers, the London Summit of G20 is headed towards being one that could have been. The intellectual and nationalist positions that were expected to soften as the April 2 deadline approached have got harder.
In a twittering analysis this is what I see:
The US-UK combine that’s been fishing for greater stimulus packages from the rest of the 17 (plus EU) countries’ heads have put their aggressive stance behind them, rather reluctantly but still, and are talking cooperation. That’s good.
But Japan has put its hat in the stimulus debate with its Prime Minister Taro Aso suggesting Germany and France don’t know what they’re talking about.
The French President Nicolas Sarkozy has dropped a position bombshell. “If things don’t advance in London, there will be an empty chair,” the Guardian reported him saying. “I’ll get up and leave.” To him, and most of Continental Europe, if the London Summit did not create new rules for capitalism it would be worthless, Sarkozy reportedly said at a cabinet meeting.
From the South in this North-South dialogue, Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, who last week blamed “white and blue eyed” people for the crisis, will meet Sarkozy, now his G20 rebel leader in arms, tomorrow. Together, they hope to raise support for increasing regulation and a harebrained idea of a global regulator.
In all this, India stands like its spiritual past: calm, composed, collected. It has also been able to win a small victory in this great battle: an entry into Financial Stability Forum, bringing protectionism to the forefront of G20 discussions and be seen as one of the important world’s saviours of the world over the next 24 months where along with China, it will be the only other significant economy to show growth.
Blog post on Cutting the Edge