Daily Archives: April 2, 2009

In spite of leaving the G20 summit with less than he wanted, Nicolas Sarkozy’s victory parade is in full flow. The French president reckons he vanquished Anglo-Saxon capitalism, and he’s doing just about anything to make sure everyone knows it. Not even disparaging Barack Obama appears to be out of bounds.

People close to Sarkozy, I’m told, have been making it known that Obama wasn’t fully across his brief. He didn’t grasp the detail, they claim. Why? It all fits the narrative of Sarkozy coming to London knowing all the arcane regulatory details, standing his ground and outwitting the capitalists and tax-dodgers. Read more

The OECD are on the verge of publishing a black list of countries that are unwilling to sign up to information sharing agreements. This morning this list contained six countries. But it has halved in size as the leaders have realised that they could do without the shame.

The three countries that are going to be fingered are Costa Rica, the Philippines, and Uruguay. Read more

Is the G20 “family photo” cursed? Today Stephen Harper, the Canadian prime minister, missed the first attempt at a “picture of unity”. The word in the conference hall is that he was “spending a penny” while his counterparts were fixing their smiles. The attempt to re-shoot the picture went just as badly, after Silvio Berlusconi of Italy decided he had better things to do.

This is all very reminiscent of the last G20 meeting in Washington. The photographer there was thwarted at the first attempt by Argentina and the second by — you guessed it — Berlusconi and Indonesia’s Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. This disparate family seems incapable of coming together. Read more

There is some magic afoot at the summit. The leaders of the world’s biggest economies are about to agree a grand plan to print money. People with knowledge of the negotiations expect there to be a $250bn deal on the special drawing rights, which is the IMF’s own currency. This will effectively mean that all the IMF countries will have bigger reserves — as if by magic. It is quantitive easing on a global scale. The Germans were clearly a bit queasy about this, but it looks like they have given way.

Details are emerging of a deal on tax havens. The G20 has agreed that the OECD will publish a list imminently, which will have three categories.

The first will be for those territories that have already concluded their tax information sharing agreements (this includes Jersey and some other UK dependencies. Read more

Looks like Gordon Brown is going to revert to an old political trick as he pulls together a deal to save the world. There has been some movement on a number of fronts. The IMF will have its funding tripled to $750bn, or more; at least $100bn of trade finance; a big increase in special drawing rights, the IMF’s own currency, or significantly in excess of $40bn. On top of that we should see some new language on fiscal stimulus, although some officials are still doubtful that it will have any more meaning.

What is the Brown trick? Add up all the measures. The prime minister has always been a fan of big, round numbers. My rough calculation is that the international finance pledges and the existing levels of fiscal stimulus ($2,000bn?) would add up to something approaching $3,000bn. That will depend on whether “significant” progress is made on the IMF funding and SDR front, which seems very likely. Cue the biggest financial stimulus the world has ever seen. Read more

This is my first dispatch from the G20 media hangar, which has so far proved to be full of journalists and free of information. But Britain’s intrepid press pack have succeeded in digging up one important story: the “minty green” colour of the “lounge area”. We’re told that the world’s leaders will be plotting the course for economic recovery from a modern, functional, informal “break out zone”. There are comfortable chairs and tables, but “no bean bags”, according to one well informed source. Leaders left breakfast a short while ago (the menu remains top secret) and are now “milling around”, chewing the fat and bargaining over the world’s future. Here’s to hoping the coffee is better than it is in the press area.