Forecast For G-20: No Big Solutions
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
Leaders of the world's biggest economies gather in Mexico this week for a two-day summit meeting. And while the backdrop is Baja, much of the attention will be on Europe. Economic troubles in the eurozone remain the biggest threat to the global economy though not the only one.
Joining us now to preview the G-20 meeting is NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley. Hi, Scott.
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good to be with, Rachel.
MARTIN: So, this feels like deja vu. I mean, last fall, when the G-20 leaders met in Cannes, they were kind of preoccupied with preventing a meltdown essentially in Europe. So here we are, the seasons have changed but not much else, right?
HORSLEY: Yeah, that's right. And if it's Sunday, it Greece we're worried about...
HORSLEY: ...or Spain or Italy and the prospects of some kind of, you know, continent-wide contagion that would make our global economic slowdown even worse.
Now, U.S. officials say there has been some progress made since Cannes, that your now has more robust firewalls and that they have taken steps to inject liquidity in their banks and that sort of thing. But certainly to the casual observer - and anyone who watches the ongoing gyration of the stock market, there is a kind of Groundhog Day quality to all of this.
MARTIN: OK, so is there any reason to expect we might see a breakthrough at the summit meeting?
HORSLEY: Well, the U.S. contingent has really been working to sort of lower expectations. And to say, look, you know, there's only four of the eurozone countries represented in the Big 20 who will be attending the G-20 meeting. So, while we do expect presentations from the European governments who are there about what they plan to do, the real meat of the European solution would come, if it comes at all, from a European summit meeting later this month.
So, lots of talks and lots of expressions of concern, but no big solution. And Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations this past week, reiterated what the administration's been saying - which is that it is really up to the Europeans to solve the problems in Europe.
SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER: You know, we can't want this more than them. And we can't make these choices for them. It's 17 countries, incredibly difficult politics. The economic and financial of this is very tough. And so, they're going to have to figure out what works for them.
HORSLEY: President Obama sometimes just shakes his head at what it must be like dealing with 17 different legislatures.
MARTIN: So, the U.S. obviously tamping down expectations. But then what if anything do we expect to come out of this meeting?
HORSLEY: Well, some expression from the European governments who are there to the rest of the world, who are watching with great concern, that they really are committed to solving this problem. And Secretary Geithner has said that he's being told privately by the Europeans - and the U.S. has been in regular consultation with the European leaders - that they really are committed to doing what is necessary to holding the eurozone together.
They all recognize that, you know, the rest of the world is watching. Europe doesn't really like being in that position of kind of being the economic basket case of the world and having to answer to the rest of the world. So we do expect to at least hear from the European leaders about their determination to deal with their challenges in a meaningful way.
MARTIN: So clearly, Europe is the major focus. But at these G-20 meetings, there're all kinds of issues swirling around. What else is on the agenda, Scott?
HORSLEY: Well, globally there is a lot of concern about how to foster economic growth. That's an issue in China. It's certainly an issue here in the United States. So we expect a lot of talk about that. And then, also in addition to the big gatherings of the 20 world leaders, there's always a lot of one-on-one conversations, where oftentimes the real meat of these meetings gets done.
And this time, there's a much anticipated sit-down between President Obama and the new, but not-so-new, president of Russia, Vladimir Putin. Putin didn't come to the G-8 meeting when President Obama played host to that earlier this year. So, this is their first chance to meet face-to-face since Putin took over the president's office again.
MARTIN: NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley. Thanks so much, Scott.
HORSLEY: My pleasure, Rachel.
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