Tensions are simmering at top-level talks in Washington to solve the global financial crisis.
Leaders of the world’s twenty most important economies hope to agree a concrete strategy to ward off recession and prevent future meltdowns.
But behind the smiles of welcome, prospects of an overhaul of capitalism itself look slim. President Bush is resisting any bold moves, and his successor Barack Obama declined to attend.
“We will focus on key five objectives,” said Bush. “Understanding the cause of the global crisis, reviewing the effectiveness of our responses so far, identifying principles for reforming our financial and regulatory systems, launching a specific action plan to implement those principles, reaffirming our conviction that free market principles offer the surest path to lasting prosperity. All nations must reject calls for protectionism, collectivism and defeatism in the face of our current challenge.”
Leaks from inside the talks suggest the summit will call for new cuts in interest rates, in the hope of stimulating growth. All leaders know that time is tight. The current head of the G20, Brazil, warned that they must act now to stave off the worst depression since the 1930s.
President Bush is under pressure to inject massive funds to save the ailing US car industry. But Britain’s Gordon Brown issued a veiled warning, saying protectionism was unacceptable, and could send the world economy down the road to ruin.