World leaders are supposed to be sitting down for a one-day economic summit on Thursday in London, when the G20 meets to consider the global recession. Facing an enormous to-do list, they're also showing signs of a severe split in priorities.
The U.S. and the U.K. want a global stimulus package, with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown calling for a "global new deal." Other European Union members say they're doing enough to stimulate the economy already. They want strict new rules to regulate the financial system. Now French President Nicolas Sarkozy says he won't sign on to any agreement that lacks a strong global regulator.
It's hard to see how much could possibly get accomplished in a one-day meeting whose agenda ranges from fending off trade barriers to overhauling the financial system and dealing with climate change.
Simon Johnson previews the G20 with a look at its own communique. He finds it lacking in substance and writes, "[U]nder current dire circumstances, window dressing is not a good reason to hold a summit."
Meanwhile, the World Bank today released another gloomy outlook. The World Bank says the global economy will shrink this year for the first time since World War II, by 1.7 percent. A recovery 2010 will be sketchy, the bank says. For the poorest countries, the situation represents "nothing less than an emergency."