As Barack Obama urged the G20 countries not to get too hot on austerity, Russia cut taxes again. And as the G19 out of 20 agreed that China’s currency was too cheap, China made ominous noises about not wanting to revalue its currency. The UK Coalition steamed ahead with major cuts anyway, but Spain said that everyone was rushing into things and, in the same hour, the IMF agreed with Spain that its haste to cut was exactly the right thing to do.
Angela Merkel warned EU members not to take comfort in economists saying everything was alright really, and then told the markets that everything was alright really. Nicolas Sarkozy said France was ready for pain, and others observed that they were already in pain, or had been (in the case of Greece) through enough pain already thanks all the same.
Monetarists in the US warned that Federal spending was out of control, but five states within the Union announced that cuts in Federal spending had rendered them insolvent. The US money supply was at its lowest level for seventy years, but another eleven banks went bust from lending too much money. Three members of the EU Central Bank (ECB) Board said it would keep on buying worthless bonds until there were none left, and a rebel three on the same Board said the Frankfurt-based bank shouldn’t have bought any in the first place.
David Cameron announced that the UK had ‘gained exemption’ from EU budget scrutiny forever, but senior German and French sources inserted ‘until November’ where ‘forever’ had been. Nicolas Sarkozy insisted that France and Germany were as one, but in very different circumstances; and thirteen Italian economists blamed Germany for all the EU’s problems, while half a dozen CBI bigwigs insisted that Germany was setting an excellent example for other member States to follow.
For any economic summit to be a success, there needs to be some form of broad consensus beforehand about (a) what’s going on (b) why and (c) what to do about it. Otherwise any such summit is doomed to be a shambles, followed by a cobbled-together statement talking about ‘broad agreement’….and then a group photo.
This is what will happen at the G20 in Toronto. You read it here first.