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G-20 Shapes New World Order With Lesser Role for U.S.,
G-20 Shapes New World Order With Lesser Role for U.S., Markets
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By Rich Miller and Simon Kennedy
April 3 (Bloomberg) -- Global leaders took their biggest steps yet toward a new world order that’s less U.S.-centric with a more heavily regulated financial industry and a greater role for international institutions and emerging markets.
At the end of a summit in London, policy makers from the Group of 20 yesterday delivered a regulatory blueprint that French President Nicholas Sarkozy said turned the page on the Anglo-Saxon model of free markets by placing stricter limits on hedge funds and other financiers. The leaders also pledged to triple the resources of the International Monetary Fund and to hand China and other developing economies a greater say in the management of the world economy.
“It’s the passing of an era,” said Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International, who helped prepare summits for presidents Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. “The U.S. is becoming less dominant while other nations are gaining influence.”
A lot was at stake. If the leaders had failed to forge a consensus -- Sarkozy this week threatened to quit the talks if they didn’t back much tighter regulation -- it might have set back the world’s economy and markets just as they’re showing signs of shaking off the worst financial crisis in six decades.
That’s what happened in 1933, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt torpedoed a similar conference in London by rejecting its plan to stabilize currency rates and in the process scotched international efforts to lift the world out of a depression.
Seeking to avoid a repeat of that historic flop, President Barack Obama junked the at-times go-it-alone approach of his predecessor, George W. Bush, and adopted a more conciliatory stance toward his fellow leaders.
“In a world that is as complex as it is, it is very important for us to be able to forge partnerships as opposed to simply dictating solutions,” Obama told a press conference at the conclusion of the summit.
Stock markets rose in response to the steps taken by the G-20 leaders. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed 2.9 percent to 834.38. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 216.48 points, or 2.8 percent, to 7,978.08. Both closed at their highest levels since the second week of February.
In an effort to promote harmony, Obama soft-pedaled earlier U.S. demands that the summit agree on a specific target for fiscal stimulus in the face of opposition from France and Germany. Instead, he settled for a vague pledge that the leaders would do whatever it takes to revive the global economy.
Repudiation of Past
The president also signed on to a communiqué that Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz said repudiated the previous U.S.-led push to free capitalism from the constraints of governments.
“This is a major step forward and a reversal of the ideology of the 1990s, and at a very official level, a rejection of the ideas pushed by the U.S. and others,” said Stiglitz, an economics professor at Columbia University. “It’s a historic moment when the world came together and said we were wrong to push deregulation.”
In bowing to that view, the leaders conceded in a statement that “major failures” in regulation had been “fundamental causes” of the market turmoil they are trying to tackle. To make amends and to try to avoid a repeat of the crisis, they pledged to impose stronger restraints on hedge funds, credit rating companies, risk-taking and executive pay.
“Countries that used to defend deregulation at any cost are recognizing that there needs to be a larger state presence so this crisis never happens again,” said Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
Financial Stability Board
A new Financial Stability Board will be established to unite regulators and join the IMF in providing early warnings of potential threats. Once the economy recovers, work will begin on new rules aimed at avoiding excessive leverage and forcing banks to put more money aside during good times.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had unsuccessfully sought to convince the U.S. and Britain to sign on to similar steps before the crisis began in mid-2007, hailed the communiqué as a “victory for common sense.”
The U.S. did, though, take the lead in getting the summit to agree on an increase in IMF rescue funds to $750 billion from $250 billion now. Japan, the European Union and China will provide the first $250 billion of the increase, with the balance to come from as yet unidentified countries.
“This will provide the IMF with enough resources to meet the needs of East European nations and also provide back-up funding to a broader set of countries,” said Brad Setser, a former U.S. Treasury official who’s now at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
The G-20 also agreed to an allocation of $250 billion in Special Drawing Rights, the artificial currency that the IMF uses to settle accounts among its member nations. The move is akin to a central bank such as the Federal Reserve effectively creating money out of thin air, except it’s on a global scale.
The increase in Special Drawing Rights will allow countries to tap IMF money without having to accept changes to economic policies often demanded as a condition of aid. The cash is disbursed in proportion to the money each member-nation pays into the fund. Rich nations will be allowed to divert their allocations to countries in greater need.
The G-20 said they would couple the financing moves with steps to give emerging economic powerhouses such as China, India and Brazil a greater say in how the IMF is run.
Emerging Markets Benefit
Citigroup Inc. economists Don Hanna and Jurgen Michels called the summit agreement “a boon to emerging markets” in a note to clients yesterday.
Mexico said Wednesday it will seek $47 billion from the IMF under the Washington-based lender’s new Flexible Credit Line, which allows some countries to borrow money with no conditions.
Emerging-market stocks, bonds and currencies rallied yesterday on speculation other developing nations will follow Mexico’s lead. Gains in Polish, Czech and Brazilian stocks helped push the MSCI Emerging Markets Index up 5.6 percent to 613.07, the highest since Oct. 15.
In a bid to avoid another mistake of the depression era, G-20 leaders repeated an earlier pledge to avoid trade protectionism and beggar-thy-neighbor policies that could aggravate the decline in the global economy.
The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicted this week that global trade will shrink 13 percent this year as loss-ridden banks cut back on credit to exporters and importers.
To help combat that, the G-20 said they will make at least $250 billion available in the next two years to support the finance of trade through export credit agencies and development banks such as the World Bank.
The summit took place amid speculation among investors that the deepest global recession in six decades may be abating. Data released yesterday showed orders placed with U.S. factories rose in February for the first time in seven months, U.K. house prices unexpectedly gained in March and Chinese manufacturing increased. Still, a report today is forecast to show U.S. unemployment at its highest in a quarter-century.
“If the economy turns more favorable, this meeting will probably be viewed as a milestone,” said C. Fred Bergsten, a former U.S. official and director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.
The G-20 members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the U.S., the U.K. and the European Union. Officials from Spain and the Netherlands were also present.
To contact the reporters on this story: Rich Miller in Washington firstname.lastname@example.org; Simon Kennedy in Paris at Skennedy4@bloomberg.net
Last Updated: April 2, 2009 20:22 EDT