Steven Erlanger and Nicholas Kulish have a very perspicacious March 30, 2009 article in the New York Times on the European economic situation at Sarkozy and Merkel Try to Shape European Unity, in which they refer to the “odd couple” of President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who are currently leading a world in which we are surely seeing the inglorious end of what Erlanger and Kulish call “unbridled capitalism”.
Erlanger and Kulish write about the French and German government heads:
“[A]n extremely odd couple — he is short and hyperactive, she is dour and shy. He believes in the power of the state and big interventions; she believes in a softer role for the state, guiding and prodding the market. Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel don’t even get along very well, aides to both leaders say. He has made fun of her accent in private meetings, the aides say, and she says he is self-centered and impetuous.
But the French president and the German chancellor find themselves in a forced marriage in these days of economic crisis. Responsible for the two largest economies among nations that use the euro, known as the euro zone, they are trying to shape European unity in the days before the Group of 20 economic summit meeting this week.” Read the rest here for current German and French economic policies.
That London G20 summit started today. G20 stands for the Group of Twenty at whose home page we find the following information:
“The Group of Twenty (G-20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors was established in 1999 to bring together systemically important industrialized and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy. The inaugural meeting of the G-20 took place in Berlin, on December 15-16, 1999, hosted by German and Canadian finance ministers….
The G-20 was created as a response both to the financial crises of the late 1990s and to a growing recognition that key emerging-market countries were not adequately included in the core of global economic discussion and governance….
The G-20 is made up of the finance ministers and central bank governors of 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and also the European Union who is represented by the rotating Council presidency and the European Central Bank. To ensure global economic fora and institutions work together, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the President of the World Bank, plus the chairs of the International Monetary and Financial Committee and Development Committee of the IMF and World Bank, also participate in G-20 meetings on an ex-officio basis. The G-20 thus brings together important industrial and emerging-market countries from all regions of the world. Together, member countries represent around 90 per cent of global gross national product, 80 per cent of world trade (including EU intra-trade) as well as two-thirds of the world’s population. The G-20’s economic weight and broad membership gives it a high degree of legitimacy and influence over the management of the global economy and financial system.“
Well, we shall see what the G20 brings. Right now they really have their work cut out for them in the face of a recession that can easily devolve into a full-scale world depression if the right counteracting measures are not taken immediately worldwide by these governments and institutions in particular.
Hat tip to CaryGEE.