G20 opens door to smaller economies in crisis talks
AFP - Monday, November 10
SAO PAULO (AFP) - - A Sao Paulo meeting of key finance officials opened the door slightly Sunday to broadening the club of global economic leadership in an effort to battle a deepening financial crisis.
The finance ministers and central bank governors of the Group of 20 set up the agenda for an emergency summit of its leaders next Saturday in Washington that seeks more participation beyond the wealthiest nations.
The G20, representing the biggest developed and emerging nations , pledged "all necessary steps" to boost sagging market confidence and to give a bigger voice to developing countries in global economic affairs.
Although no specific proposals emerged, the G20 said in a statement, "We agreed that we must draw policy lessons from the current crisis and take all necessary steps to restore market confidence and stability and to minimize the risk of a future crisis."
The statement said "the global crisis requires global solutions and common set of principles," and added that "we stand ready to urgently take forward work and actions agreed by our leaders."
John Kirton, director of the G20 Research Group at the University of Toronto, said the G20 "substantially delivered" on its promise to play a role in battling the global economic maelstrom.
"The G20 is emerging as an effective center of global financial and economic governance," he said.
"It has not only responded speedily and appropriately but it has started to put into place a whole new system of global governance."
Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said that at next week's Washington summit, "will have the political power" of the heads of state and government "to proceed with proposals."
The Brazilian minister, who has led a call for emerging nations to play a bigger role in financial affairs, said that officials saw a need for quick actions to steady a troubled global economy.
"The solutions have to come fast. We have to change the tires with the car in motion," he said.
"In one or two or three months we will see the answers to these questions."
But asked whether the G20 would replace the G7 as a steering committee for economic affairs, he said, "This is an issue that has not yet been resolved, but the G20 is a strong candidate to coordinate actions."
David Kotok, an economist at US-based Cumberland Advisors, said the movement toward a more powerful G20 is positive.
"Globalization and world financial integration is threatened by the turmoil," Kotok said.
"G7 must quickly give way to G20. We already see the expansion of swaps between central banks reaching way beyond the G7. Central banks know fast action is needed and they can use their existing powers in the monetary policy implementation process. But monetary policy is limited and finance ministers and their governments must coalesce rapidly in a unified way."
The Sao Paulo meeting concluded that the Bretton Woods system set up to govern international finance in 1944 should be revamped.
"We underscored that the Bretton Woods Institutions must be comprehensively reformed so that they can more adequately reflect changing economic weights in the world economy and be more responsive to future challenges," the statement said.
"Emerging and developing economies should have greater voice and representation in these institutions."
This would mean overhauls of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, created at Bretton Woods.
The G20 communique and statements from officials indicated a general agreement on broad principles among the ministers, noting that more detailed proposals would come from the November 15 summit of G20 heads of state and government hosted by US President George W. Bush.
Robert Brusca, a New York economist at FAO Economics, said the G20 so far failed to offer any specific help for the sputtering economy.
"Nothing is concrete, though they say they should take concrete steps," he said. "A group this large has a hard time making decisions."
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