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Scoring the G20
What the Group of 20 leaders did and didn’t accomplish
 

The G20 summit in Washington Saturday “met the modest expectations” set for it, said The Washington Post in an editorial. The leaders of the 20 nations agreed to “a broad but fundamentally nonbinding agenda for overhauling financial market regulation”—a global clearinghouse for credit derivatives, a regulatory “college of supervisors,” a study group on executive pay—but left the details to a meeting in London next spring.

The “vaguely-worded commitments” did include some important concessions, notably from the U.S., said Sinclair Stewart in Canada’s The Globe and Mail, but “the more far-reaching consequences” of the summit can be found in its guest list. The landmark participation of countries like China, India, and Brazil—and their new economic leverage—is “a recognition that the pecking order has changed.”

Really, you could have stopped with China, said Niall Ferguson in The Washington Post. The China-U.S. relationship is “at the heart of this crisis,” and Barack Obama should schedule a G2 summit for Day 2 of his presidency. But those two countries can’t do it alone, and the G20 missed “a real opportunity” by not agreeing to coordinate monetary and fiscal policy.

Give the G20 leaders credit for their “united front” against protectionism, said China Daily in an editorial. They wisely saw that we won’t return to prosperity without free trade, and fair trade—but to get there we’ll need “a thorough overhaul of the international financial system.”

That’s why the G20 was “little more than a very expensive photo op,” said the United Arab Emirates’ Khaleej Times in an editorial. With no real agreements made, fixing the “current economic mess” now falls to the next summit, and the next U.S president.

 

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