Thursday, April 2, 2009

Having Failed to Unite the US Congress, Obama Faces Discord at G-20 Economic Summit

Guess what? Just as Obama has been unable to unite his own country solely by virtue of his astonishing personality, word from the G-20 has it that all the nations of the world are not yet ready to put aside their differences and kneel at the One’s feet, especially not France and Germany.

David Sanger and Mark Sandler at the NY Times report this morning:

For all the smiles at the waterfront Excel conference center, and despite calls for unity from Mr. Obama and Mr. Brown on Wednesday, a rift intensified over Anglo-American calls for greater fiscal stimulus spending and French and German demands for more intrusive global regulation of financial institutions. While President Nicolas Sarkozy of France did not repeat an earlier threat to walk out of the conference — “I just got here,” he joked — he made it clear he would reject an agreement that puts off stringent new regulations on banks, tax havens, and hedge funds.

Sanger and Sandler predict other divisions:

By the time Mr. Obama ended his evening at Buckingham Palace and a working dinner for the leaders assembling here — representing a group as diverse as the established European powers and Japan to Indonesia, India, Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands — it appeared likely that countries would divide into two or three camps.

The United States, Britain and Japan will push for more immediate stimulus and “systemic risk” regulators that mostly operate within national borders; Germany and France will push the opposite position, probably with some support from the Czech Republic.

That leaves China and Russia, among others, to exploit the division to play a significant role, though if tradition holds the major differences are likely to be smoothed out in wording in a final communiqué that each country interprets differently.

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