Is The G20 Summit Worth Holding?

We know already much of what the G20 will produce: a communique that looks very much like the last one (dubious reassurances about the great progress being made along vague dimensions), no progress on fiscal stimulus (as we have been projecting for some time), and promises to clamp down on regulation for hedge funds and the like (fine, but how relevant is this to either what caused the crisis or what can sustain a recovery?)

Almost all the important issues are kept off the table by anachronistic diplomatic niceties: monetary policy around the world, Europe’s impending crisis, and how to escape the overweening power of major banks in almost all industrial countries.  The G20 summit has substantially failed even before it begins.

There is, however, one topic worthy of debate that is still on the agenda – the IMF.  We need the IMF to have enough resources to help out when small and not-so-small countries get into trouble.  Feel free to imagine IMF-less futures, but when the chips are down – as in Europe right now – to whom else can countries turn for money, advice, and the keys to international support?  When they go to the EU, the Germans, the Swedes, or any other regional power, they are told bluntly: bring in the Fund.

The G20 therefore has to address the current low level of funding at the Fund – as the world economy and financial flows grew, no one bothered to increase the resources available under global financial emergency conditions.  And here there is great tension – as I discuss in a piece at the New Republic online, the Europeans are lowballing (for no good reason), the emerging markets are standing idly by, and only President Obama could potentially rise to the occasion.  But with so much else going on in the US financial sector and around the world, can he focus his persuasive powers sufficiently to win the day – particularly on and around a topic as dry as the IMF? 

Or will the key issues get punted down to the G7/IMF spring meetings at the end of April?  In international economic diplomacy, there is always another summit and another crack at meaningless communique drafting just around the corner.

By Simon Johnson

50 responses to “Is The G20 Summit Worth Holding?

  1. If I remember correctly, you have said elsewhere that the IMF is deeply infiltrated by American bankers with their own agendas, who would tend to water down the advice given to the US government. John Perkins’ “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” makes me wonder whether the IMF and the World Bank might resemble the CIA: a double organization in which the more public half is devoted to the collection of objective information, while the hidden half acts upon this information, “by whatever means necessary”, for the private enlichment of those who hold the purse strings.

  2. Correction: You referred in the Daily Telegraph (London) to “the massive over-representation of Western Europe on the IMF’s board”, which is even more relevant to this article.

  3. Tick tock
    Tick tock

  4. Your recent commentaries have a knack of speaking “truth to power,” and it is greatly appreciated. That tendency, though, appears to run into the ground once the topic turns to the IMF. Your piece in the Atlantic (1) neglects US/IMF’s role in enabling BOP-crises in Asia through premature capital account liberalization, and (2) neglects US/IMF’s disastrous role of worsening the crises by enforcing pro-cyclicas conditionalities. This comment here goes along the same lines — it neglects that nobody wants IMF-money because of continued overuse of monetarist conditionalities (Strauss-Kahn’s promises notwithstanding). Have a look at Pomerleano’s op-ed on VoxEU.

  5. One must wonder, since Europe is unable to do anything except say “go to the IMF”, what would happen if the US told Europe “we’ll only fund the IMF contingent on X, Y, and Z?”

    Or is that a game of chicken that is simply too dangerous to play?

  6. I agree with Rarnim and it will be nice if you could make a comment on the downsides of using the IMF as an instrument of financial stability.
    “The Quiet Coup” is a very good article and I understand your points:
    1. It’s easy to hate the agent with the bitter medicine, and to cast waves of populism against him to hide monkey businesses.
    2. The IMF is the best tool in the short term.
    But, in the long run, did the IMF became too much focused on stabilising the financial system? Can it manages this trade-off between his roles as lender of last resort and insurer of the system ?

  7. Re: escaping the overweening power of major banks:

    Business innovation scholar Clayton Christensen:

    “[Industry] regulations ultimately change *in reaction to* the innovators” success in those markets.”

    Enter NYC”s $3M for funding next-gen banks, and this Facebook group:

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=56315044445

    Excerpt:

    New York City, invest your $3 million “angel fund” in start-ups that, en route to becoming a bank, provide individuals with new and improved ways to customize education, and to showcase and earn money from expertise (i.e., ways to become (more) creditworthy)

    — End of excerpt —

    Adapted from a biz plan that has been praised by, among others, analysts at Microsoft, Amazon.com and top-tier VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

    In addition to Christensen’s work, the plan draws on canonical work by growth economist Paul Romer, Google’s director of research Peter Norvig and many other world-class specialists.

  8. It is quite optimistic to think the G20 or G7 or G+’s summit will solve the financial problems at all. But if we think the purpose of those meeting is to function as a spark to ignite action we will be more realistic.

    If the IMF focus more on the means rather than ends of its mission it may become a more influential organization. Working side by side with action-research and action-learning with the countries under the IMF scope may improve its effectiveness.

    Edgar

  9. Paul Anderson

    I was impressed with and grateful for Simon Johnson’s candid talk of oligarchies in our “mature” democracies. But I could not read the Atlantic piece without thinking about The Confessions of an Economic Hitman, the IMF’s role as inducer of the Washington-consensus Shock Doctrine. Those “oligarchs” that needed breaking were as often as not those who stood in the way of firesale divestments of publicly held assets and utterly callous slashings of public services. It’s why Asia has been hoarding its surpluses–the credibility and indeed the good-faith integrity of the IMF’s “medicine” is at its lowest ebb. The prescriptions have often been counterproductive, or Pyrrhic accounting triumphs over impoverished populaces–and, as with free-trade, when it comes to the world powers, it’s do as we say, not as we do. Not an attack on Simon Johnson personally, but I would read with keen interest, a critical self-examination on the topic of the IMF’s role in “breaking” the locals.

  10. Bill Bradbrooke

    John Witing, London

    You are cynical, sir. Why would Simon still be teaching if the IMF were a siphon for private aggrandizement?

    StatsGuy

    It is the Europeans who are playing “chicken” by refusing to stimulate.

    They remain convinced the financial crisis is an American problem. If they are counting on a US recovery to “reflate” their economies without massive intervention, that isn’t going to happen. The question is who will do the intervening.

    For decades Europeans have tilted their economies toward DFI and global trade. That tilt has reversed abruptly and with disastrous results. European banks are loaded with AAA securities because the Basel Accords valued them so highly. In 2008 the charming French Minister of Finance, Mme Lagarde, assured us that European companies were not as highly leveraged as US corporations. As we understand more about differing approaches to accounting it is becoming clear she was not correct.

    Europeans have been caught in a downdraft at a time when they do not yet have a sufficiently powerful “federal” government or a central bank sufficiently supple to deal with the economic problems right on all their doorsteps. Regrettably both institutions lack credible leadership at the moment.

    I believe it is important to meet with them at every opportunity to explain what we are doing, why we are doing it and what they might do to help themselves. (“Not talking” was a Bush/Cheney trick.) It may take deflation to focus them, but eventually they will listen.

    After WWII the US rebuilt Europe and Japan and an appetite for market capitalism spread globally. That work has stalled. As Simon points out in his article in The Atlantic, the situation the world finds itself in today has the potential of being worse than that of the 1930’s. We could indeed be brought to our knees. Does anyone seriously think we are going to quit and simply let the lights go out?

    Consider how we have transformed ourselves. In the past six months we have changed leaders; we have overhauled our cultural values; we have become savers; we seem ready to address basic societal needs too long ignored. Most importantly, from being terrified by news of losses in the “hundreds of billions” we have become a people preparing to make a bet in the “tens of trillions!”

  11. Simon,
    As you’ve mentioned in the Atlantic M. column, IMF has a terrible reputation in East Asia, Turkey and (I think) Latin America. I agree that IMF definitely has an important role in future, but what steps would you recommend to the IMF to clean up its image and name in these countries? Can G20 help? How?

    It’d be great to hear your thoughts on this subject.

  12. Clap, clap, clap!

    -:)

  13. The IMF has a terrible reputation in Asia. Most countries are downright scared of an IMF loan, because of the cobweb of strings attached.

  14. “After WWII the US rebuilt Europe and Japan and an appetite for market capitalism spread globally.”

    Ask that to Germans, sir.

    Was it for free?
    What made USA “the greatest economy of the world”?

    I’d like to see progress without wars, but it seems to be incompatible with USA policy, time and again.

    And the transformation of USA, in this case, would be to change from Iraq to Afghanistan/Pakistan, to the worse.

    The people have become savers by force, and its tax money is going to looters.

    It would be good for you to read “The Big Transformation” by Polanyi, to catch the real meaning of transformation, sir.

    We all are on the same ship (called planet Earth), so let play responsibly.

  15. adios amigos

    Everyday, I get up in the morning, and I go off to work. I put in a good day’s work and go home. I honestly try to be a good employee, everyday…it’s what I do. When I get home, I try my hardest to be a good husband and father. I make mistakes from time to time, it’s not intentional, and my mistakes are not driven by greed and intentional dishonesty. I would never intentionally steal anything, from anyone. Attention Americans: give this a try….it may change your lives.

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  17. Well, you do raise a very good point about the incentives that the IMF’s medicine has created for small countries – specifically, to hoard surpluses.

    Once a small country has experienced the IMF’s help, it has every reason to keep consumption very low and exports very high. Simply, it cannot _risk_ being caught in a debt crisis again, and so it _cannot_ bring consumption to parity with exports.

    The only countries that have the ability to take the risk of not over-exporting are those countries that own the reserve currency (or currencies). Only they are immune to circular debt crises since their debts are denominated in their own currency, and they can always print money as a last resort.

    In terms of pure consumption (in the short term), this benefits the US and Europe (and still, somewhat, Britain) which have been able to incur huge debts. In the long term, it is probably destructive due to the impact on domestic production.

    I had not really considered the role of the IMF in creating/sustaining this asymmetry.

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  19. adios amigos

    Bill,

    “tens of Trillions” Bill? Um, I’m hoping the U.S. treasury has that “in the bank” (funny….huh?), because America isn’t going to be able to borrow (AKA: steal by issuing IOU’s that NEVER get repaid) that much ever again. We, The People, aren’t that stupid anymore. America wiped out my pension fund over here in “backwards” Norway, and we’re wondering who, exactly, we see about that. You see, we bought into your last lie, the toxic mortgage lie. Whats the next lie going to be Bill? PPIP? TARP? How’s that whole mess in Iraq going Bill? Find any of those elusive WMD’s yet? No? Can ya do us one small favor perhaps? Stop killing innocent civilians who didn’t do a damn thing to America….ok? Can ya do that maybe, Bill? And stop al the stealing too, that would be wonderful Bill. Stop steraling the worlds savings. Yeah, that would be great if America could do that too. ASSHOLES

  20. Well I certainly think its worth holding…no great alternative–and besides it can be a good venue for staring down the Europeans. :)

    So, what WILL make banks lend more? No one seems to be able to answer this or to get them to loan more…I know there has been some chatter about forced lending but I’m not sure that is the answer.

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  22. I don’t think that most Americans are that much different from you. We have been conditioned to believe that our leaders are honest and are looking out for our best interests. Many of us have not acquired the critical thinking skills needed to realize that this is not always true, especially in recent history. Hopefully, the Iraq fiasco and this unfolding crisis will help change that so we can regain control of our government and our financial system which are now overpopulated by those driven by selfish interests and blind ideology. In my view, the AIG bonus outrage is a hopeful sign because it suggests that the blinders are starting to come off. I understand your anger and I have been trying to focus mine on those who truly deserve it.

  23. adios amigos

    Tom,
    I believe you are deeply mistaken when you say the most Americans are not much different than we are over here in northern Europe. We are VERY different than you. We don’t care what Brittany Spears is up to. We DO care what our government is doing however. We DON”T care who is going to win on American Idol, but we DO care deeply about who is going to win our next political election. We aren’t obsessed with what kind of car we drive, but we do drive a hard bargain with the teachers who are educating our kids to make sure they get a fantastic education, and not with text books that don’t tell the truth. We care about repaying our debts…..you don’t seem to be overly concerned with that issue. We typically live within our means, and we SAVE money for our kids futures….rather than allowing our government to borrow our kids future financial health off a cliff. We try hard NOT to start wars with anyone, because we really frown on killing people who did nothing to us. You all in America may want to give that last one a try. When we have fellow citizens who aren’t feeling well, we take care of them….no matter how much money they have. We save, then buy things. We try not to teach our children to worship “stuff”. Junk. Our entertainers seem to have actual morals, and they don’t try to convince our kids to use guns, take drugs, join street gangs and be abusive to women. We try very hard NOT to pollute everything in sight, and burn thru natural resources at warp speed. We use mass transit often, because to us, the destination is more important than trying to impress each other with what kind of car we drive. We encourage honesty in our citizens as well as our kids. Something like Bernie Madoff just doesn’t happen here. In your society, it’s rampant. I find my wife beautiful just the way she is, not surgically altered. And the list can go on and on and on. But, in short, we are not a bunch of clowns with too many aircraft carriers and credit cards, and very few morals or ethics. I guess the big difference between our two cultures is that we view ourselves as people who will take responsibility for our actions. I short, we actually care, whereas you…….?

  24. No , it’s not. Except for the wine.

  25. I think this website needs a language filter now.

  26. What is so important to US folk of the US dollar as the only reserve currency? I can see the US banks want this to continue pulling in global savings. Also US overseas borrowing is all local currency so monetary value of foreigner’s savings can be devalued.

    But US local currency freedom to move without impacting the world must be better? Also a fix doesn’t have to rebuild same old same old Wall St outfits?

    Can we please see a realistic dollar value attached to the reserve role for the dollar? G20 action to institute a second reserve currency must surely be a step forward?

    Any comments?

  27. If reluctance to accept IMF funding may be affected by sources of its’ supplementary funding, although I haven’t seen mention of earmarks, but talk about the importance of increasing the IMF’s resources doesn’t seem to square with the fact that so few nations seem to want its’ intervention. Interesting paragraph from this article:

    “…The ["United States"] will also press for a review of regional development agencies, such as the Inter-American Development Bank and Asian Development Bank, to ensure they are spending money ["wisely"]. An increase in the money available to them ["from what/whom"] is also being considered. Geithner is set to deliver a keynote speech on ["the issue"] in Medellin, Colombia, on Sunday before arriving in London along with Obama this week…” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/28/AR2009032801183.html?

  28. Expectations that their loans will be repaid.

    Which, it seems, can ONLY be secured by guaranteeing those loans (creating one sided risk).

    Frankly, we do not need the banks to be lending more. The illusion that credit is _critical_ to the economy is one propagated by banks to ensure their economic influence and access to leverage. We should allow the banks to deleverage, and then revamp cap/asset ratios to HOLD THEIR LEVERAGE DOWN.

    This will create a currency vacuum – which can be filled with a 2 trillion dollar stimulus package that redirects social assets toward strategic goals (energy, infrastructure, etc.).

    The currency-replacement intitiatives need to be rapid, and time-limited (so society doesn’t become dependent on printing money).

    Instead, we have elected to rebuild our money supply by subsidizing risk for hedge fund investments.

  29. The last comment is what I fear the most. There is no motivation on the part of the international corp to move quickly and effectively. It removes their raison d’etre.

    Climate change could probably be sorted out with a Wiki and all leaders on email. But that’s not going to happen.

  30. It wasn't me

    Adios, it is a mistake to lump all Americans in your reply to Tom. I’m an American, and I intently watch what’s going on in my country. I don’t use credit cards, am debt free, am not materialistic in the least and live in what I consider to be great personal integrity. I was adamantly opposed to the Iraq war, thought the Bush regime was the most corrupt in recent history, and think Ron Paul is one helluva guy. I don’t watch mainstream TV except for the occasional movie, think mainstream news is a joke, and read alternative international news on a daily basis. And I’m NOT the only one in America to be this way.

    Perhaps in your country they don’t fluoridate the water to keep you complacent. Perhaps they don’t try to kill you so big pharma can make billions on your suffering. Perhaps your educational system hasn’t dumbed down your children to the point they can’t think critically and, perhaps, just perhaps, you still have freedom of speech with which to influence your government. And yet Americans are waking up by the thousands to their corrupt government and politicians. Don’t think that a lot of us do not realize that while Obama dangles hope and change in one hand, that he’s putting us on the road to ruin in the other hand that’s hidden behind his back. Don’t think that most of us did not know the outrage because of the AIG bonuses was just a distraction from what’s really going on. We’re not as dumb and materialistic as you may think. Mainstream America doesn’t drive Beamers, live in McMansions and live beyond their means. We’re experiencing a class war and it isn’t pretty. Middle America hardly exists anymore. So give us a break from your judgments. We’re doing the best we can with what we’ve been given. I hope that Tom is right . . . that we can regain control. Why not wish us luck instead of crapping on our heads, hmm?

  31. Reading all the comments and the disillusionment with USA, it is TRUE. Yes,there are the vast majority of Americans who have not been consumed by the wealthy projection on their society, however,when will Americans turn their mindless television obsession into meaningful focus on the corruption that pervades society and do something more than turn to another mindless channel. You are being entertained to death !

  32. Adios:
    I would like to add to my previous response to you. First of all, many of us can’t get up in the morning and go to work because we have no job to go to anymore. I lost my job over a year ago; it was shipped to China because the Chinese can do it more cheaply. Why? Because they basically treat their workforce like livestock, could care less about polluting the environment, and do not respect intellectual property rights. Our government does nothing about this because they depend on the Chinese to finance their deficit spending and because they are heavily influenced by the corporations which benefit. A large part of the deficit spending funds the military-industrial complex which enriches the upper class in this country. There is an interesting documentary called “Why We Fight” which sheds light on this subject. Another documentary called “The Corporation” is also relevant.
    Now most of the attributes of “Americans” that you describe are those exhibited by the part of the population that are sometimes referred to as “The Sheeple”. These people have succumbed to the relentless barrage of media advertising and propaganda which encourages the behavior that you find so distasteful. American television is addictive to many people and the TV is on almost 24/7 in some households. When you couple this with a generally poor education system, it is easy to see how the sheeple came to be.
    I often feel afraid to live in America and have considered trying to relocate to Europe. However, now I am afraid to do that because I might be hated.

  33. please take a look at

    Here is what I think adios amigos and many others are saying:

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  35. adios amigos

    Tom,
    Regarding being hated if you relocate, because you are an American…..probably. And don’t believe all the BS your government spews all the time, all that nonsense about “they hate us because of our freedoms!!”, that the rest of us heard coming from the clowns in Washington. That’s not why your despised. You see, for many years, it was only the actions of your government that confused and deeply angered people around the world. Have you noticed that you seem to have military bases all over the place? Tell me, exactly how many foreign country’s have bases on your soil? Then there’s the whole IMF/WorldBank/UN nonsense, agencies that your government basically controls. These are supposed to be organizations that were put in place to do some good, however, they seem to have morphed into operations that covertly (in most cases) doing the bidding of the US. Then there is the NEVER ENDING wars that make little, if any, sense. After a while, the rest of us out here said, “wait a minute, what the hell is the matter with the citizens over there in America? Why the hell aren’t they doing something to restrain their out of control government?” So, people began to not only question the actions of the US Government, we began to believe that your government really does represent the wishes of the American people as well. Read “Confessions Of An Economic Hitman” sometime. MANY of us have read it. It pretty much establishes what America is about, in my view. Basically, it all about the money, and “F” everybody else. Enter: the current economic nightmare to confirm everything we thought about Americans. You killed many of our pension funds, and whats the result? The criminals that engineered this fraud are rewarded with MORE dollars in the form of bailouts, huge bonuses, TARP and now, what will be a trillion-dollar fraud/reward, PPIP. NO ONE got indicted. Not one person……and they won’t be. Exactly how should we feel about you? Hugs & Kisses all around after you cleaned many of us out over here? This isn’t Fantasy Island Tom.

  36. Adios:
    Please allow me to answer your questions and elaborate further. We do not have any foreign-based military bases on our soil. I want our government to close down the military bases we have in Europe and Japan and anywhere else they are not wanted or needed. I also want our government to stop the endless wars that accomplish nothing except run up our deficits, kill innocent people, and engender more hatred towards us. I too want to see the financial criminals brought to justice. I was opposed to the bailouts. I’ve written to my political representatives expressing my views and when I do get a response, I get a generic form letter thanking me for my interest in this “very important issue”. I vote for candidates that appear to most closely share my views. If you have any other suggestions for me, I would be happy to hear them.
    Our government tells lies, distorts the truth, and withholds information when they want to embark on an agenda that they feel will be politically unpopular if its true nature was revealed.
    This has happened more than once in my lifetime and it mystifies me why people do not catch on. I think they remain in denial. However, it says something about the character of the American people when the government thinks it needs to hide the truth. I am sad to say that this is not the America that I was raised to believe in.

  37. adios amigos

    Gee Tom, you wrote to them, huh? Well, that letter must have had your Congressman trembling with fear. An actual letter, huh? Very brave of you to actually send him a letter. Are you going to e-mail him next? I know! Send a “Letter To The Editor” of the newspaper too. That always gets the attention of your politicians. I think all of you in America ought to actually wait until you have been completely bankrupted before you march into Washington, armed, and start lining up the Politicians and related criminals and hold “Trials”. READ THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. Compare all of the complaints your founding fathers had about the King Of England, and then compare it to what is going on in your country right now. It’ll really amaze you, the similarities. But you won’t do that will you. Can’t. No time…..Gotta go watch American Idol on that new flat screen HDTV (Made in China).

  38. Adios:
    I found the responses I received from my representatives to be less than satisfactory so I doubt they were “quaking in their boots”. I have sent emails but the responses were similar. You seem to be suggesting armed revolution and this seems to be a last resort possibility. Now that we are brainstorming, can you think of something else that is less likely to get me killed or thrown in jail? Since I don’t have a job, I have plenty of time to do something but I want it to be something that has some chance of success. I don’t watch TV and have never seen American Idol. Can you tell me what it is about?
    Did you know that it is very difficult to find products for sale in this country that are not made in China? Nevertheless, most of what I own is not made there – I check before I buy. Do you buy things made in China?

  39. Tom,
    It had been published some time ago that the pension funds of some Norwegian municipalities (probably, some companies as well – but I don’t have a clue about the Norwegian pension system details) had been largely invested in CDOs. Looks like adios amigos was a participant in one of these. I really feel bad for him, but instead of taking to task his pension account managers and demanding the whole pension scheme to be changed (say, insured by the government like PBGC here does) he blames the Americans en masse for causing his trouble. It is always easier to find a distant “other” and blame him for all your problems. Fortunately – the Americans are brought up not to do this. I think we here would have faulted the fund manager had he invested all our money into Norwegian mortgages that suddenly went sour… [I am not saying they would - Scandinavian real estate market are quite different from ours - but say the ones in Ireland and Spain are at least as overvalued]
    And btw “American Idol” is watched in 16% of the households… and I don’t know much about Norwegian pop-culture, but in the most of Europe it is as mindless, tasteless and violent (frequently) as it is here. And btw we don’t have violence at the soccer games…

  40. adios amigos

    Ron,
    Our pension managers trusted the ratings agencies – the US ratings agencies, who were rating US mortgage products, placed on homes in the US, purchased by US citizens, with mortgage products originated by US mortgage lenders who often didn’t verify ANY of the claims made by the borrowers when they filled out the mortgage applications, and as it turned out…..amazingly….they often lied. Here’s a concept for you, when you have made massive mistakes, it’s best to just admit you screwed up. But that’s not what Americans typically do. Can you say George Bush? Their are a few who say this disaster was intentional. I don’t know that for a fact, so I don’t say that. What is certain however, is that when you control 25% of global GDP, well, that title comes with certain responsibilities. What happened here though showed very little, if any, responsibility. The bottom line though is that there is a global imbalance in finance, manufacturing and trade. It’s off-kilter. If the US wants to consume, it must manufacture more, and import less “stuff”. We are not helping you by forever and blindly financing your deficits. Your politicians cannot control themselves when they see money on the table – it’s the nature of the beast. We, the people, have to afford them the opportunity to do the right thing going forward and somehow cap what they can spend. And no more deficits…period. That’s not our generations money to spend. The Chinese have got to knuckle under and start consuming more, and allow their currency to trade freely as well. I think they may realize that now….they screwed themselves in the long run, they realize that now. Their currency reserves are about to be inflated away to nothing. Oops. The good news is, that these issues are not so big that they cannot be solved, and probably faster than most people think at this moment in time. The other good news is, that this shit-storm has occured across the whole planet. No one wins if this isn’t solved, and fast. In the long run, this current situation will mean changes. Big ones perhaps. This mess was inevitable, as we shifted gears towards globalization, and more trade back and forth between countries. Had to happen. In time, and not much time, the people will demand, and more importantly, the markets will demand a resoloution. ALL parties will realize that they all have to make changes. Their will be a lot of bickering and finger pointing (like we do here), but in the end, the world trade markets will demand a solution. Compromises. America has to go back to making “stuff”, like you use to 20-years ago. More monufacturing, but the unions will have to calm down a lot. Ya can’t pay a guy $50 per hour to bolt a fender on a Chevy, and expect that to have a happy ending. And your taxes must be equitable. Your government budgets must be constitutionally mandated to be balanced. PERIOD. No deficits. Thats killing you.

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  42. Ronny – Thank you for your insights. Yes, some of the fault does lie with the pension system for not having adequate safeguards in place to protect against unforeseen events such as this. I have also learned enough about the loan origination process and the packaging and ratings of the CDOs to believe there was rampant fraud. I think that the people involved need to be held to account before confidence in the US financial system can be restored. I also believe that the people who are the least responsible were those who were ignorant enough to believe they were qualified for a loan made by lenders who knew they would eventually default.

    Amigo – I hope that you are correct that changes will be made in a timely manner to solve the problems. It does seem that the rest of the world will have to stand up to the US in a united way to accomplish this. Maybe they could start at the upcoming G20 summit?

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  46. adios amigos

    MIT, is that what they teach the kids at MIT now? Borrow money until you are completely bankrupt? Tell the Sloan School idiots that you want your money back….just a thought. How about this: pay us back what you stole from the non US pension funds, and then do whatever you like. Go bankrupt, but try not to take the rest of us with you. Ever think of that? I know you have no clue what I’m talking about, but perhaps when your cable TV is finally shut off, you may consider what I say…huh?

  47. Pingback: ” THE G20 COMMUNIQUE: A VIEWER’S GUIDE ” FROM BASELINESCENARIO. COM. EXCELLENT ANALYSIS OF WHAT IT MEANS, WHAT’S BEEN WRITTEN, AND A BETWEEN THE LINES GUIDE. « Want Less Blog

  48. Now you’re getting it! Why is AIG “too big to fail”? I would guess because there’s no better place from whic to spy, than a company with access to the books around the world. I would venture to guess the CIA is full of auditors and MBAs.

  49. Pingback: Obama Takes The Lead: G20 Viewer’s Guide « The Baseline Scenario

  50. Pingback: Economic Roundup, Friday 3rd April 2009 - Common Endeavour