What’s the right way to critique the G20? There is good reason to set the bar high. The G20 showed us what it is capable of in 2009 and 2010, when the world needed it most. There is a general feeling among those who pay the closest attention to international governance that the G20 has done little to redeem itself since. The world’s most important economies are stuck in a seven-year slump of inaction, according to this view. That makes them part of the problem; if their inaction is not the root cause, then it is at least a byproduct of this era of serial disappointment.
Those who see coordinated fiscal stimulus as the answer the global economy’s sluggishness were once again disappointed by the G20 over the weekend. Finance ministers and central bankers agreed at a meeting in Chengdu, China that economic growth is “weaker than desirable.” They identified an impressive number of downside risks: fluctuating commodity prices, low inflation, volatility, geopolitical conflicts, terrorism, refugee flows, and Brexit. If any positives were discussed, they opted not to mention them in the official communication. The best that could be said of the global economy in Chengdu was that at least it wasn’t shrinking.
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