The G-20 Lets Us Down

March 16, 2009 9:30 AM

I'm continually amazed by how easy it is for government officials to hoodwink most of the news media.  All it takes is for a couple of leading finance ministers to get on roughly the same page, and we're reading/hearing about "substantial progress" or "major steps forward."  If someone provides an articulate background briefing to a leading newspaper on the supposed debate within a group of countries, this becomes the dominant news story.

Saturday's G-20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors is a leading example. It was a disaster. We face what officials readily concede is the biggest financial and economic crisis since the 1930s, yet this conclave agreed precisely nothing that will make any difference.  If the G-20 heads of government summit on April 2 is a similar failure, we will be staring at the real possibility of a global catastrophe.  Yet the spinning storytellers of the G-7 have still managed to get much of the press peering in entirely the wrong direction.

For more on what would the right direction, take a look at my piece in Britain's Sunday Telegraph.

Also posted on Simon Johnson’s blog,
Baseline Scenario

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Simon Johnson Senior Research Staff