G20 averts World Crisis.

Who would’ve thunk it? The G20 in a few short days have actually managed to reach agreement on some tangible actions and outcomes following the recent talk fest.

In reports in the MSM, the G20 leaders have promised to rein in corporate cowboys and set up a worldwide financial watchdog in a $7 trillion bid to solve the global financial crisis.

The centrepiece of the package is $US1.1 trillion ($1.58 trillion) in spending to create jobs and get banks lending to each other again. By the end of next year, G20 leaders will have spent $US5.5 trillion ($7 trillion – or $7,000,000,000,000) to save the world economy.

(It’s a lot of money).

Under the deal, a new Financial Stability Board will be set up to ensure international cooperation on regulation and introduce new principles on pay and bonuses for corporate bosses to ensure they reflect performance.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the financial market “cowboys” who wreaked havoc on the world economy would be brought undone by the deal.

“It’s been prime ministers and presidents who have struck this deal but it’s small businesses, tradies and young people who will benefit from it over time because global action is necessary to support local jobs,” Mr Rudd said.

Treasurer Wayne Swan has refused to say exactly how much of the trillions of dollars of extra spending will come from Australia, but promised to cough up a “fair share”. “It’s a bit early to tell how much,” he said.

He has said the Financial Stability Board would include a group of “supervisors” to work with national watchdogs to make sure they managed the risk in their economies. He said the current crisis showed that unmanaged risk in one country was a threat to all.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who had threatened to walk out of the summit, said the agreement represented “a commitment by heads of state and government to strengthen regulation and supervision of financial activities”.

“A breakdown in regulation was at the origin of the financial crisis.”

The key pledges are:

– Immediate publication of a list of tax havens that don’t comply with information requirements as well as unspecified sanctions.

– The injection of an additional $US1 trillion into the global economy through measures including a $US500 billion increase in the funding available to the IMF, an increase in the availability of money for developing countries through the IMF’s “special drawing rights” to $US250 billion and a total of $US250 billion being set aside for trade assistance.

– The establishment of international colleges of supervisors for national financial regulation.

– Agreements to do whatever is necessary to promote growth, but with approaches individual to each country, ensuring the possibility of further fiscal injections if needed in future.

– The revamp of the IMF and other institutions to ensure nations such as China are given greater influence. Senior positions on the World Bank and the IMF will open to candidates from the developing world.

– A continuing commitment to continuing funds such as the millennium development goals.

– An extra $US50 billion for the world’s poorest countries

Clearly, there must’ve been a lot of behind the scenes negotiation for the leaders to reach such a conclusive list of specific actions – with the standout endorsement coming from France after initially threatening to walk away from the talks altogether.

The outcomes represent a real win for beleagured British PM Gordon Brown. Brown secured the support of both France and Germany and announced a package of six key pledges designed to boost the world’s economies and hasten the end of the financial crisis.

The tough new approach to tax havens – lists of countries that do not comply with anti-secrecy rules will be published almost immediately – also represented a win for the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel who have campaigned strongly for the new sanctions.

These also include a common approach to managing “toxic assets”, radical reform of the banking system, new regulatory systems including a “financial stability body” to act as an early warning system worldwide and caps on financiers remuneration.

Mr Brown said the “old Washington consensus is over” and in agreeing to the six pledges, the G20 nations made their messages “clear and certain” to markets and communities world wide.

“This is the day the world came together to fight back against the global recession, not with words but with a plan for global recovery and reform,” he said.

“Today’s decisions, of course, will not immediately solve the crisis. But we have begun the process by which it will be solved … I think a new world order is emerging with the foundation of a new progressive era of international cooperation.” he said

New reforms of the global banking system, including institutions such as hedge funds, and other parts of the so-called “shadow banking system” coming under global regulatory control for the first time.”

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said: “This is a victory for global cooperation … it is a victory for reason that the things that got us into this crisis are not allowed to be repeated. That is what I wanted.”

The G20 leaders will meet again in New York in September, when the IMF will report on the impact of the spending to date.

Personally, I’m encouraged by these developments,. and if the markets are anything to go by, this might just be the beginnning of the turning point of the global financial crisis.

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We’re All Doomed. It’s Already Too Late.

As the G20 gets into full swing, there appears to be no shortage of pessmists professing that the entire talkfest risks being a momentous failure unless significant measures can be reached and agreed upon to address the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).

Given that previous G20 meetings have focused on efforts to end global poverty, the prognosis, by their own scorecard is not good.

The French, are already talking about pulling out. Which isn’t really too much of a surprise really when you think about it. If history is anything to go by – the French are too busy quaffing bordeaux, puffing on Gitanes while scraping the croissant crumbs off the bedsheets as they prepare for the next shag – in order to be concerned about worldy affairs.

And who can blame them?

“Je ne moi” or ‘not me’ (as they say in France).

However, in a report published in The Australian, the head honcho of the United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon has warned that failing to act to halt the global economic crisis could lead to widespread social unrest and failed states.

“What began as a financial crisis has become a global economic crisis,”

“I fear worse to come — a full-blown political crisis defined by growing social unrest, weakened governments and angry publics who have lost all faith in their leaders and their own future.”

He said the global economic downturn affected the poorest countries the most, and noted that in these countries “things fall apart alarmingly fast”.

“Unless we build a worldwide recovery we face a looming catastrophe in human development,” Mr Ban wrote.

World leaders meet in London today to decide how to tackle the global financial crisis, but are divided on whether to boost the world economy with an injection of capital, or to focus on new rules to prevent another such crisis.

Mr Ban called for a “truly global stimulus” package, and argued that developing countries need $US1 trillion over 2009 and 2010.

He added:

“There is a thin line between failing banks and failing countries, and we cross it at our peril.”

That’s all very well for him to say. There is no shortage of people making grandiose statements about the perilous state of affairs that currently surrounds us. But are things really that dire?

What do you think?

Is that a chocolate croissant sur le table…?