Tag Archives: G8

Speculators ‘R’ Us: The G8 And Energy Prices

The G8 summit was obviously disappointing, even for those with low expectations.  Usually, the substance is lacking but the public relations are well managed.  This year even the messaging was messed up – they said some new things on climate change but not what we were told they could say, the food aid/development package was lamer than advertized, etc.  So the whole thing looks like an expensive flop.

But actually it was much worse. Continue reading

The G7/G8: Why Bother? (A Viewer’s Guide)

The G7 was originally conceived as a form of steering committee for the world economy (antecedents).  Existing formal governance mechanisms, around the IMF and the UN, seemed too cumbersome (and too inclusive) during the 1970s, with the breakdown of fixed exchange rates, assorted oil shocks, and the broader shift of economic initiative towards Western Europe and Japan.

And the G7 had some significant moments, particularly with regard to moving exchange rates in the 1980s.  More broadly, behind the scenes, it served as a communication mechanism between the world’s largest economies (“coordination” is a dirty word in G7 policymaking circles).  And it was probably a good thing in the 1990s that Russia wanted to join the G7 – hence the G8 once a year, although many of the most important technical meetings are just the G7.

But today, honestly, what’s the point? Continue reading

The G8 Meeting This Weekend (A Viewer’s Guide)

If you’d like to attend the G8 Ministers of Finance meeting this weekend, the Italian Ministry of Finance has put out a handy travel guide.

Alternatively, take a look at my preview on The New Republic’s website.  Our leadership appears to be resting on its laurels after the April G20 summit – or perhaps they think the next G20 summit in September is the place for real discussion.  Regulatory reform still needs (a) to happen in a meaningful sense for the financial sectors in all industrial countries, and (b) to be closely coordinated across countries – if your bank is too big to fail in my country, whose problem is that and whose taxpayers are on the hook?  But gone completely from the G7/G8 ministerial level is any sense of urgency; all we’ll hear is self-congratulation.

And in terms of macroeconomic policy, discussed in a piece with Peter Boone on the NYT’s Economix this morning, current global early warning signs (higher oil and other commodity prices; rising long-term yields) are being interpreted by policymakers as indicators of success and return to “normalcy”.  It reminds me of official discussions in early 2007 – no matter what weakness you could point out in US housing and European banking, leading G7 policymakers were completely in denial, with articulate arguments about why they were right. 

Incrementalism is the preferred policymaking culture of G7 ministries of finance and central banks, and they are very much back in that mode.  But if you put incrementalism together with refusing to really change the rules for banks and huge, unconditional support for credit that is hard to withdraw, what do you get?

By Simon Johnson