Will The G-20 Summit Accomplish Anything? Without President-elect Obama in attendance, what can world leaders hope to get done at this weekend's meeting in Washington D.C.?

Will The G-20 Summit Accomplish Anything?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/97052259/97052226" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

LYNN NEARY, Host:

We're joined now by Clive Crook, who writes about politics and economics for the Atlantic Monthly, the National Journal and the Financial Times. He's here in the studio to talk about the G-20 summit. Good morning, Clive. Good to have you with us.

CLIVE CROOK: Hi.

NEARY: So President Bush addressed the G-20 summit this morning. The leaders gathered for dinner at the White House last night. What are you expecting to come out of all of this?

CROOK: Unfortunately, very little. I think the whole thing has an air of unreality about it because Barack Obama is not attending this summit, and I think the world is looking to him to exercise leadership going forward. So it's really a gap, you know, that you can't fill. I'm expecting that they'll issue a communique today that will make soothing statements about how they're making progress and agreeing on things but very little of substance. I'd be very surprised if they can agree on anything of substance.

NEARY: European leaders, Gordon Brown of Britain and Nicolas Sarkozy of France, have been leading this charge on financial reform right now. But you suggested in the column this week that it's really Chinese President Hu Jintao who we should be watching.

CROOK: Well, I think that the Chinese announced a huge fiscal stimulus this week. That's one of the components that we need going forward. And of course, it is being debated in the U.S. There's a big debate right now about whether there should be a second fiscal stimulus in the U.S. But it was the scale of the Chinese stimulus that was so extraordinary. I mean, they say they're injecting $500 billion of new fiscal resources into the economy. When you remember that the Chinese economy is still much smaller than the U.S. economy, relatively speaking, that's colossal. I mean, it's in the neighborhood of 15% GDP, way more than anything that's being considered by the U.S. or by Europe. So I thought the timing was interesting, you know, that they announced this just before the summit as if to say, you know, remember us. We're big players now.

NEARY: And will we be seeing them making that leadership position more obvious as time goes on, do you think?

CROOK: I think so. I don't think that the Chinese are front and center in the financial regulation part of this debate. They're leading the debate on fiscal policy. When I say leading, you know, they've done this big first thing. But I think what is very important is that the meeting that's happening now is the G-20 and not the G-8. That means that China, Brazil, India, other emerging market economies are at the table. And I think it is, actually, very important to establish that principle, and China, certainly, is very keen to retain that seat at the top table. And I think the fiscal stimulus and the timing of the announcement had a lot to do with that Chinese intention.

NEARY: And just very briefly, there are great differences over deregulation, as you just mentioned, deregulation issues. Quickly outline those for us.

CROOK: Well, I'm not so sure that there are huge differences of principle. You know, the problem is getting different national regulatory initiatives to cohere because national regulators are very jealous of their independence. The U.S. has a certain way of doing things, Europe too. It's getting the details nailed down. You know, the principles are fine. But the devil is in the details, and that's the hardest thing to get right.

NEARY: Clive Crook, thanks so much for joining us.

CROOK: OK. Thanks.

M: Clive Crook writes about politics and economics for the Atlantic Monthly, the National Journal and the Financial Times.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.