G20 summits are usually turgid affairs, but this one has some (limited) potential.
Relations between the White House and Britain and the White House and Europe have been frosty of late. Afghanistan, BP, the Falklands, Merkel and Sarkozy’s irritation at Obama’s
personal and political aloofness, all of these have been contentious.
Diplomatic tension has now developed an economic arm. The broadly centre right governments of Britain, France and Germany are committed to cutting public spending now. Each has introduced an
austerity programme, and Cameron has made retrenchment is his international cause. Obama still stands for stimulus.
The President said: ‘This weekend in Toronto, I hope we
can build on this progress [in previous G20 meetings] by coordinating our efforts to promote economic growth, to pursue financial reform, and to strengthen the global economy.
‘We need to act in concert for a simple reason. This crisis proved, and events continue to affirm, that our national economies are inextricably linked.’
The statement is not, to coin a phrase, ‘kick-ass’. It’s very vague and he’s fetishised his thesaurus – who’d have thought there are so many words that mean
‘together’? There are plenty of synonyms for ‘Mid-term elections’ too but only one leader faces them this November – a vital context in this dimension of the global
spending debate. To give him his due, Obama’s little spiel contains one irrefutable fact: the world’s national economies are inextricably linked; the politics of this weekend are
important to the prosperity of nations and private companies. Incidentally, BP shares are at 14 year low today.