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You go your way, I'll go mine

world Updated: Jun 28, 2010 23:02 IST
Guardian News Service
Guardian News Service
Hindustan Times
G20

The communiqué from the weekend's G20 summit is easily summed up: "Do your own thing."

The cracks are beginning to show in the G20. Developed and developing nations were united when confronted with the collapse of world trade and the shrivelling of industrial output (in late 2008). But they are finding it harder to keep the show on the road now that the immediate crisis is over.

The Americans cannot persuade the Europeans to hold off from fiscal tightening until the recovery is assured; the Germans and the British think the risks of a sovereign debt crisis are far more serious than the possibility of a double-dip recession.

Then, the summit danced around a long-standing cause of friction – China's unwillingness to allow its currency, the yuan, to appreciate to a level that might help reduce its trade surplus with the US.

They were buried during the period of maximum danger – September 2008 to April 2009 – but the G20 no longer believes the world economy is about to descend into a second Great Depression.

For the super-optimists, the return of diplomatic "business as usual" might even be seen as a good thing to the extent that it means normalcy has returned. That, though, is a perverse way of looking at things.

The G20 was meant to be rather more than a crisis-resolution body. It was meant to be an institution that, through the inclusion of China, India and Saudi Arabia, could better deal with the chronic imbalances in the global economy that caused the crisis in the first place.

On the evidence of Toronto, it will take a second, perhaps even bigger, crisis to lead to such an outcome.

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