Wednesday, July 23, 2014


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'New World Order' Emerging At G-20 Summit

The family photo from the second day of the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh
The family photo from the second day of the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh
By Heather Maher
PITTSBURGH -- A new world order is emerging at the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh with a decision by the group to become the premier coordinating body on economic issues.

A joint communique was expected to show that emerging countries like China and India will be given more of a voice in how the global economy is run.

G-20 leaders were also pledging to leave in place for now emergency measures taken last spring that have brought signs of global economic recovery, and to act as one to prevent a repeat of the financial meltdown.

A copy of the draft document, which was obtained by Reuters, said in part: "We pledge to avoid destabilizing booms and busts in asset and credit prices and adopt macro-economic policies, consistent with price stability that will promote adequate and balanced global demand."

The draft also contains a promise to "make decisive progress on structural reforms that foster private demand and strengthen long-run growth potential."

Briefing reporters, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the group would not leave the status quo unchanged.

"We are not going to walk away from the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression and leave unchanged and leave in place the tragic vulnerabilities that caused this crisis," Geithner said. "And we have worked very hard at a very early stage in this process, in this administration, to build consensus on a very strong set of international standards for reform."

He added that the United States aims to preserve confidence in the U.S. financial system and keep the dollar strong.

"We have a special responsibility here in the United States to make sure that we are doing the things in this country to preserve confidence in the U.S. financial system," Geithner said, "confidence that is important to sustain the dollar's role as the principle reserve currency in the international financial system and we expect, as I think countries around the world expect, the dollar to retain that position for a very long time."

U.S. President Barack Obama was attending plenary sessions in the morning and afternoon and hosting a working lunch. He was expected to hold a press conference near the close of the summit to lay out the group's final agreements.

Curbing Excesses?

Leaders were still discussing how to ensure that the nascent global recovery sustains its momentum and trying to agree on tougher rules for international financial institutions aimed at preventing another financial crisis.

Among those rules are limits on banker pay -- an issue that's popular among the public in countries that have given government 'bail out' funds to faltering banks.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicholas Sarkozy have pushed hard on the issue of limiting the highest salaries and bonuses.

The draft communique appeared to show that the G-20 will do this through a range of options -- including giving companies the power to retract bonus pay if performance doesn't merit it, and capping rewards if the level of reserve funds falls too low.

The part of the communique that deals with compensation said that "reforming compensation policies and practices is an essential part of our effort to increase financial stability."

It added: "If we all act together, financial institutions will have stricter rules for risk taking, governance that aligns compensation with long-term performance, and greater transparency in their operations."

Range Of Issues

Environment advocates were likely to come away from the summit empty handed, as a U.S.-led effort to get leaders to stop giving subsidies to fossil-fuel industries failed to translate into a deadline for action.

Leaders only agreed to do something in the "medium term."

The G-20 has also agreed to make the International Monetary Fund (IMF) a more representative body by increasing the voting power of countries that have long been underrepresented.

The decisions reflect the recognition by the United States and Europe of a new global economic reality in which emerging market economies play a bigger role, especially in the aftermath of the global financial crisis that hurt developed economies more than developing ones.

On international trade, the agreement includes a plan to ask the World Bank to create a "multilateral trust fund" aimed at increasing the agricultural investment in poor countries.

The joint statement read: "Over 4 billion people remain under-educated, ill-equipped with capital and technology and insufficiently integrated into the global economy. We need to work together to make the policy and institutional changes needed to accelerate the convergence of living standards and productivity in developing and emerging economies to the levels of the advanced economies."

Attracting Protests

The question of how much wealthy states do to help poorer ones is what attracts thousands of protesters to G-20 and G8 summits, and this one was no exception.

After a day of peaceful protests well outside the massive security perimeter that police and National Guard troops have erected around the downtown meeting venues, marches turned violent Thursday evening and overnight.

A group of protesters trying to breach the roadblocks were stopped by police in riot gear and on horseback who used rubber bullets and tear gas to push the marchers back.

The Pittsburgh G-20 Resistance Project targeted around 80 local businesses that it said symbolize greed and global economic policies, including a dozen or so close to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, where world economic leaders were meeting.

In another part of the city near the University of Pittsburgh, an overnight protest saw a handful of businesses -- including a McDonald's and a Subway sandwich shop -- vandalized.

Police reported arresting around 60 people.

Today a local peace organization called 'The Thomas Merton Center' will hold a "People's March" and rally near a city government building.

The march had a city permit and organizers pledged to keep it nonviolent.

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