Too busy watching Germany beat England yesterday to catch up on those G20 talks? Don’t worry, lemme break down those talks for you and point out what you missed out on. Here are three issues that were discussed during the summit that you should know about:
1.) Synchronization of Efforts
One of the key issues that the G20 tackled was how to coordinate the unwinding of stimulus measures that helped bring about economic recovery, while still supporting growth. Did that confuse you? Well, it should! This was a tough one because a coordinated effort to do fiscal adjustment might put some unwanted downside risks to recovery.
At the end of the day, members of the G20 promised to half their financial deficits by 2013 so that they may stabilize their debt-to-GDP come 2016. But in order to make sure that they do not withdraw stimulus measures too quickly, the timing and speed of exit will be based on how well (or badly) each specific nation is doing. Recovery, as we all know, has been uneven throughout the globe, with Asian nations, along with Australia and Canada at the forefront of global growth.
2.) Stronger Financial Regulation
Another proposal made was that of imposing stricter banking regulations. More than a year has passed since the onset of the financial meltdown yet banking activities are still being watched closely as most G20 leaders fear a repeat of the crisis.
Well, it’s actually US President Obama who’s being pushy about financial reform. That’s not so much of a surprise, considering how the financial crisis of 2008 started in the US anyway! Hah! It does look that EU financial moguls are on Obama’s side though as they supported his proposed tax on banks which could fund future bailouts. Banks, however, seem to be less open to these changes since they are already following stricter capital and liquidity standards.
3.) Rebalancing World Trade
Lastly, also discussed during the meeting was the need for a rebalancing of trade. As I’ve mentioned in the past, Western nations like the US and euro zone countries have fun of massive amounts of I.O.U’s, spending money like a 16-year old on MTV’s show Sweet Sixteen. On the other hand, Asian countries have scrimped and saved. This scenario has led to an improper balance in trade flows, with saving countries being forced to rely on external demand.
In the meeting, leaders called out both sides. Deficit countries were urged to work on their budgeting skills and take measures to build up their savings. Meanwhile, saving countries were encouraged to develop internal demand and not rely so much on Western countries to buy up their products.
Part of me feels that financial leaders may be trying in vain to ask countries to change. After all, old habits die hard! Then again, maybe all the hardship that we’ve gone through over the past two years will finally wake everyone and realize that this can no longer continue.