Returning from a week’s vacation, I’ve been catching up on the G20 summit in Pittsburgh. I am moved, of course, by the FT‘s strictures against cynicism, but one is still entitled to ask what was achieved.
Certainly, the communique is full of fine promises and commitments. The FT summarises:
They agreed to: avoid premature withdrawal of stimulus; plan their exit strategies; launch a “framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth”; strengthen financial regulation, via reformed rules on capital adequacy and remuneration of bank employees; reform the global institutional architecture, including reallocation of quotas in the IMF; phase out fossil fuel subsidies; “bring the Doha round to a successful conclusion in 2010”; reach agreement in Copenhagen on climate change; and meet twice in 2010, first in Canada and then in South Korea.
Well done. But was there ever any risk that they would promise instead to withdraw stimulus too soon, commit themselves to not thinking about their exit strategies, strive to make financial regulation less effective, increase fossil-fuel subsidies, abandon the Doha round, pledge to reach no agreement on climate change, or say “we may meet again next year, or we may not”? I didn’t think so.