Posted by Kendall Harmon

A senior Chinese official has warned that the "clock is ticking" to avoid a US default that could hurt China's interests and the global economy.

China, the US's largest creditor, is "naturally concerned about developments in the US fiscal cliff", vice finance minister Zhu Guangyao said.

Washington must agree a deal to raise its borrowing limit by 17 October, or risk being unable to pay its bills.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 Stock MarketThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

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Posted October 7, 2013 at 4:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Finance chiefs of the world's 20 leading economies are ringing alarm bells over the U.S. fiscal cliff and Europe's debt woes at a meeting in Mexico this weekend as they look to push back deficit reduction targets to help boost growth.

Unless a fractious U.S. Congress can reach a deal, about $600 billion in government spending cuts and higher taxes are set to kick in on January 1, threatening to push the American economy back into recession and hit world growth.

"The Americans themselves acknowledge that this is a problem," a G20 official said on condition of anonymity. "The U.S. administration says it doesn't want to fall off the fiscal cliff, but right now it can't tell us how exactly it will address it because that issue is on ice ahead of the election."

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsG20 Housing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketTaxesThe Banking System/SectorThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenateUS Presidential Election 2012

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Posted November 5, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As financial markets slide toward disaster, scarcely pausing to celebrate the “success” of the Greek election or the deal to recapitalize Spanish banks, the euro project is finally revealing its fatal flaw. One country poses an existential threat to Europe – and it is not Greece, Italy or Spain. Every serious proposal to resolve the euro crisis since 2009 – haircuts for bank bondholders, more realistic fiscal consolidation targets, jointly guaranteed eurobonds, a pan-European bailout fund, quantitative easing by the European Central Bank – has been vetoed by Germany, and this pattern looks likely to be repeated next week.

Nobody should be surprised that Germany has become the greatest threat to Europe. After all, this has happened twice before since 1914. To state this unmentionable fact is not to impugn Germans with original sin, but merely to note Germany’s unusual geopolitical situation....

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Germany

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Posted June 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Group of 20 leaders focused their response to Europe’s financial crisis on stabilizing the region’s banks, raising pressure on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to expand rescue measures as contagion engulfed Spain.

As U.S. President Barack Obama called after-dinner talks with euro-area leaders at the G-20 summit in Mexico, the Treasury department’s top international negotiator, Lael Brainard, said Europe is making an effort to “break the feedback loop” between banks and government debt, the link that is worsening Spain’s woes.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

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Posted June 19, 2012 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The mainstream parties "looted Greece, and afterward they took the Greek flag and they offered it to Angela Merkel," the German chancellor, Mr. [Alexis] Tsipras said in a campaign rally in Athens Thursday.

Though Syriza's message has caught on, not all of the disaffected are ready to embrace the party. Anna Konstantoulaki, a third-year Spanish-literature student at the University of Athens, voted in May for a tiny party. She doesn't know what to do now. She is upset with mainstream parties but not sure Mr. Tsipras is capable of running the country.

"I am very confused," she says. "The last few days, I can't stop thinking about what is going to happen." She adds: "I'm scared, actually."

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Greece

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Posted June 16, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit ratings of France, Italy and seven other European countries on Friday, a move that may have more symbolic than fundamental financial impact but served as a reminder that Europe’s economic woes were far from over.

Another memory jog came Friday from Greece, the original source of Europe’s debt troubles. Talks hit a snag between the new Greek government and the banks and other private investors that Athens hopes will agree to take losses on their debt so that Greece can avoid a default.

Together, those developments underscore that even as Europe’s debt turmoil enters its third year, no clear solutions are yet in sight — despite recent signs that a new lending program by the European Central Bank might be easing financial market pressures.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentThe United States Currency (Dollar etc)* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

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Posted January 14, 2012 at 8:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Self-styled as “the premier forum for our international economic co-operation”, the Group of 20’s latest summit failed to live up to its central ambition to create “strong, stable and balanced” global economic growth.

As they arrived in Cannes, the leaders of countries representing 85 per cent of global output found the agenda dominated by political turmoil in Greece and a eurozone crisis too hot for the G20 to handle. They had little success in making progress on their medium-term goals.

The G20 all but admitted that the so-called “Doha round” of trade talks, launched in December 2001, was dead; it produced an action plan for growth and jobs that committed countries to almost nothing they were not already pursuing; and left the international monetary system almost unchanged.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

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Posted November 4, 2011 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Benedict XVI prayed that a summit of the leaders of countries with the world's largest economies would find ways to overcome the current economic crisis and promote real development.

At the end of his weekly general audience Nov. 2, the pope issued a special appeal to the leaders of the G-20 nations scheduled to meet Nov. 3-4 in Cannes, France.

"I hope the meeting will help overcome the difficulties, which -- on a global level -- block the promotion of an authentically human and integral development," the pope said.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI

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Posted November 3, 2011 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Americans must not be smug about the suffering of Europeans—our financial system is thoroughly integrated with theirs. Moreover, the International Monetary Fund will most likely be involved in the event of future bailouts and will likely need large funds from its members, which ultimately means the taxpayers.

And, of course, the U.S. has its own large and growing public debt burden. We have not gone as far down the road to entitlements, but we are catching up. If you want to know how the debt crisis will play out here, watch the downward spiral in the EU.

Meanwhile, expect more volatility in financial markets. U.S. traders in particular simply have not grasped the enormity of the EU debt crisis.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 Stock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Europe--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreece

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Posted November 2, 2011 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The crisis of the euro zone has finally hit the potholed road of real politics, with the Greeks now openly questioning whether their commitment to Europe and its single currency still matters more to them than control over their own future and economic well-being.

During the two-year financial crisis, the wealthier countries of northern Europe, led by Germany, have insisted that their heavily indebted brethren in the south radically cut spending in return for emergency loans. They have stuck to that prescription even though austerity has undermined growth and increased unemployment in Greece, Spain, Portugal and now Italy, betting that people in those countries will swallow the harsh medicine because their only alternative is to default and possibly leave the euro zone altogether.

The turmoil in the government of Prime Minister George A. Papandreou means that Greece is about to call that bet. Many Greek politicians appear to be calculating, at this late stage, that they have more to lose by sticking to Germany’s terms than by risking a messy default, and even going it alone with their old currency, the drachma, outside the euro zone.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 Stock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveThe United States Currency (Dollar etc)Treasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreece

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Posted November 2, 2011 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Germans expressed fury and frustration at Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's shock decision to call a referendum on the latest aid package, with some saying the gamble would push Greece out of the euro zone.

"You can't help thinking that they should be grateful as Europe is trying to help," said Konstanze Pilge, a 26-year old student, walking near the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin. "Now it looks like they are going to mess things up."

Papandreou dropped his bombshell on Monday evening, less than a week after European leaders agreed the outlines of a second bailout for Athens.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreece

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Posted November 1, 2011 at 6:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

European leaders have reached a "three-pronged" agreement described as vital to solve the region's huge debt crisis.

They said banks holding Greek debt accepted a 50% loss, the eurozone bailout fund will be boosted and banks will have to raise more capital.

Shares on European markets rose sharply on news of the deal.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 Stock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChinaEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceSouth AmericaBrazil

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Posted October 27, 2011 at 6:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 14th crisis summit in 21 months starts with a meeting of all 27 European Union leaders at 6 p.m. The real business gets under way at 7:15 p.m. when chiefs of the 10 non-euro nations depart, leaving the rest to hash out a strategy that they already say requires more work.

The cancellation of a finance ministers’ meeting to precede the summit underscored the holes in the plan. The finance chiefs will now meet at an as-yet undetermined time after the summit to complete its main elements, including safeguarding banks and writing down Greek debt, according to an EU official.

Global exasperation with Europe’s response is deepening, with politicians from Australia to North America prodding the euro area to get ahead of the crisis before it infects the world economy.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GreeceItalyPortugalSpain

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Posted October 26, 2011 at 6:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If it has been obvious for some time that we are caught up in an extreme financial crisis, the extent of its severity has acquired greater clarity in being described by the Governor of the Bank of England. Never before has the global financial system been so interlinked and integrated, which means that problems in one part of the world are capable of causing severe stress almost everywhere else. We once more face a perfect storm of cascading default, contracting credit and collapsing economic activity.

Yet, despite the parallels, the current situation need not end in the same catastrophe of economic, political and social meltdown as occurred in the 1930s. For most advanced economies, these outcomes are still avoidable. But escaping them is going to require leadership, nerve and collective resolve – things that have so far been in short supply.

The problem is not in Britain – which, despite the appalling legacy of debt left by the last government, is doing most of the right things – but in mainland Europe, where lack of foresight, unwillingness to act, confusion of counsel and lack of clear thinking are indeed everywhere to behold.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

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Posted October 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After a weekend of tense meetings among world finance officials here, euro-zone leaders were weighing options to maximize the size of their bailout fund by borrowing against it. The move could provide trillions of dollars of firepower to rescue governments and banks—-but only if all 17 euro-zone legislatures approve a two-month-old agreement to broaden the bailout fund.

Highly public opposition from Germany, the largest and most powerful euro-zone economy, could block the plan.

Policy makers are "focused on their own internal restraints, so that we don't have the outcome that we need," Antonio Borges, head of the International Monetary Fund's Europe department, said Sunday. While key players were understandably acting in self-interest, he said, it was generating "disastrous" collective results.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Germany

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Posted September 25, 2011 at 2:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The reserve powers would be well advised to pull out all the stops to save Europe and its banking system. Together they hold $10 trillion in foreign bonds. If they agreed to rotate just 4pc of these holdings ($400bn) into Spanish, Italian, and Belgian debt over the next two years, they could offer a soothing balm. None has yet risen to the challenge. It is `sauve qui peut', with no evidence of G20 leadership in sight.

Once again, the US has had to take charge. The multi-trillion package now taking shape for Euroland was largely concocted in Washington, in cahoots with the European Commission, and is being imposed on Germany by the full force of American diplomacy.

It is an ugly and twisted set of proposals, devised to accomodate Berlin's refusal to accept fiscal union, Eurobonds, and an EU treasury. But at least it is big.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GermanyGreeceItalySpain

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Posted September 25, 2011 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are many more reasons for concern. The continuing inability of Europe to cope with the euro troubles, the political impasse over economic policy in the United States, and the deer-in-the-headlights immobility of Japan do not inspire confidence. The emerging economies — China, India, Turkey and Brazil — face increased difficulties of their own and will not pull the global economy out of the dumps. That large corporations are sitting on cash hoards or buying back stock rather than making new investments is bad news; that consumers are cutting down debt and doing what they can to increase their savings is good news for the long term, but bad news now. And it seems clear that two years of frantic efforts in Washington have failed to breathe new life into the nation’s housing market....

Global economic events are moving so rapidly that we have no way of foreseeing the economic environment for next year. It will probably not be very good, but how bad it will be and how it will look to voters cannot yet be foretold.

More to the point, we need policy discussions more than we need political ones. This is not just about how big the deficit should be; it is about whether the international financial system will survive the next six months in the form we now know it. It is about whether the foundations of the postwar order are cracking in Europe.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 Housing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

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Posted September 23, 2011 at 5:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Key indicators of credit stress have reached the danger levels seen before the Lehman Brothers failure three years ago, with Markit's iTraxx Crossover index – or "fear gauge" – of corporate bonds surging 56 basis points to 857 on Thursday....

The yield spread between Italian 10-year bonds and Bunds reached a fresh record of 408 basis points before the European Central Bank (ECB) intervened in late trading. It is near the level at which LCH.Clearnet raises margin requirements, the trigger that forced Greece, Portugal and Ireland to request bail-outs.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermanyGreeceItalyPortugal

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Posted September 22, 2011 at 8:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The European debt crisis has entered “uncharted territory,” rekindling concern it will spread eastward through banking and trade links, according to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Italy’s Unicredit SpA (UCG) and Intesa Sanpaolo SpA (ISP), two of eastern Europe’s biggest lenders, fell to the lowest in more than two years July 11 as political infighting threatened to delay efforts to cut the budget deficit in the country with Europe’s largest debt burden. European leaders this week failed to agree on a new aid package for Greece.

“We are in uncharted territory,” Erik Berglof, chief economist at the London-based EBRD, which invests in eastern Europe and Central Asia, said in a July 12 interview. “The source of the contagion seems to be in worse shape.”

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GreeceItalySpain

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Posted July 15, 2011 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Greece has approved an austerity bill that helps pull the debt-ridden country back from the brink of an immediate default. After days of public unrest and impassioned debate, the Greek parliament voted 155-138 on Wednesday in favor of the controversial bill, which authorizes $40 billion in brutal budget cuts and tax hikes over the next several years for a nation already reeling from previous belt-tightening measures.

The tense legislative showdown came as the country continued to squirm in the grip of a 48-hour nationwide strike and as tens of thousands of angry protesters thronged downtown Athens in noisy opposition to the austerity package. Police in riot gear scuffled with some demonstrators and tried to contain the kind of violence that on Tuesday left dozens of people injured, shop windows smashed and tourists running to escape tear-gas fumes.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Greece

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Posted June 30, 2011 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In particular, the leaders were unable to reach a consensus on how to identify when global imbalances pose a threat to economic stability, merely committing themselves to a discussion of a range of indicators in the first half of 2011.

Tim Condon, head of research at ING Financial Markets in Singapore said it was "hard to disagree" with the vows of the leaders but they had fallen short of the progress hoped for going into the summit.

"They decided just to put down a lot of laudable objectives as the conclusion of the meeting and hope that they can do better, that more can be accomplished in future meetings," he said.

The G20 has fragmented since a synchronized global recession gave way to a multi-speed recovery.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 Politics in General

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Posted November 13, 2010 at 12:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama departed Friday from a summit of world leaders here with an agreement that major economies would abide by common standards that could, for example, reverse some of China's export dominance and help put Americans back to work.

But the deal, backed by the United States and adopted by the Group of 20, is not the detailed code of behavior Obama had sought; instead it's a statement of principle. Its impact won't be known until a group of finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund complete what could be months of haggling over the specifics. And if the G-20 meeting proved anything, it is the difficulty of wresting meaningful consensus from nations with increasingly divergent economic interests.

"You are seeing a situation where a host of other countries are doing well and coming into their own and they are going to be more assertive in terms of their interests and ideas," Obama said at a news conference. "The question was whether our countries can work together to keep the global economy growing. The fact is that 20 major economies gathered here are in broad agreement on the way forward."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 Politics in General

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Posted November 13, 2010 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Leaders of the world’s biggest economies agreed on Friday to curb “persistently large imbalances” in saving and spending but deferred until next year tough decisions on how to identify and fix them.

The agreement, the culmination of a two-day summit meeting of leaders of the Group of 20 industrialized and emerging powers, fell short of initial American demands for numerical targets on trade surpluses and deficits. But it reflected a consensus that longstanding economic patterns — in particular, the United States consuming too much, and China too little — were no longer sustainable.

President Obama called the agreement significant, even if not as dramatic or far-reaching as the one that emerged from the first G-20 leaders’ meeting in 2008, when nations came together quickly amid fears of a global meltdown.

“Instead of hitting home runs, sometimes we’re going to hit singles,” Mr. Obama said. “But they’re really important singles.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20

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Posted November 12, 2010 at 8:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anyone wondering what President Obama will face when he arrives in South Korea on Wednesday for a global financial summit meeting need look no further than an announcement by China’s leading state-endorsed rating agency, which downgraded the United States’ credit rating on Tuesday — and provocatively questioned American leadership of the global economy.

The agency cited the Federal Reserve’s decision to pump more money into the United States economy and warned of Washington’s “deteriorating debt repayment capability” and “the serious defects in the United States economic development and management model,” which it predicted would lead to “fundamentally lowering the national solvency.”

In the rest of the world, the United States is still the gold standard of credit risks, and the Chinese downgrade is not expected to have much real impact. But the sharply worded attack from the country that is buying billions of dollars in American debt each month was just the latest rhetorical assault on the United States, as officials from China to Germany to Brazil suggest that Washington’s addiction to debt has greatly diminished its credibility.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentBudgetFederal ReserveThe National DeficitThe United States Currency (Dollar etc)Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner* International News & CommentaryAsiaChinaEurope

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Posted November 10, 2010 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

China kept up a drumbeat of criticism of U.S. easy money policies on Tuesday, warning two days before a G20 world economic summit that Washington could destabilize the global economy and inflate asset bubbles.

Nearly a week after the Federal Reserve announced it was going pump as much as $600 billion into the economy, world leaders continue to bash the plan, saying it will flood global markets with cash without doing much for the U.S. recovery.

President Barack Obama acknowledged in Jakarta that the Group of 20 rich and developing nations "still have a lot of work to do" to ensure balanced global growth.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 The U.S. GovernmentBudgetFederal ReserveThe National DeficitThe United States Currency (Dollar etc)Treasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryAsiaChinaEuropeGermany

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Posted November 10, 2010 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner refrained from pushing for current-account targets while China softened its stance on the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing days before a summit of the Group of 20.

The Fed’s move to buy $600 billion of Treasuries could contribute “tremendously” to global growth, Vice Finance Minister Wang Jun said after Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum finance chiefs met in Kyoto, Japan, Nov. 6. At the same gathering, Geithner said current-account deficits or surpluses aren’t “something that is amenable to limits or targets.”

Policy makers from Asia to South America have warned that the Fed’s decision to pump liquidity into the U.S. will depress the dollar and spark flows of capital to emerging markets that threaten asset-price bubbles. China’s Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said Nov. 5 the U.S. step may hurt global confidence, while rejecting state-planning style targets for trade deficits.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsG20 The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

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Posted November 7, 2010 at 2:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Fed is essentially lending enough money to the government to fund its operations for several months, something called "monetizing the debt." In normal times, this is one of the great taboos of central banking because it is seen as a step toward spiraling inflation and because it risks encouraging reckless government spending.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveSocial SecurityThe National DeficitThe United States Currency (Dollar etc)Foreign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

32 Comments
Posted November 5, 2010 at 7:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Federal Reserve’s push toward easier monetary policy is the “wrong way” to stimulate growth and may amount to a manipulation of the dollar, German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle said.

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke yesterday gave Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers meeting in Gyeongju, South Korea an overview of the U.S. central bank’s efforts to jumpstart the world’s largest economy. His strategy, which investors expect will soon include greater asset purchases, drew criticism at the talks, said Bruederle.

“It’s the wrong way to try to prevent or solve problems by adding more liquidity,” Bruederle told reporters yesterday, saying that emerging-market officials were among the critics. Bruederle, a member of the Free Democratic Party, the junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, stepped in for hospitalized Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble at the meeting.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 Housing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveForeign Relations* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeGermany

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Posted October 24, 2010 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The idea of a tax on financial transactions championed by France and Germany is unlikely to gain much traction at the next meeting of leaders of the world's 20 largest countries because it faces opposition both within the European Union as well as from countries such as the U.S. and Canada.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy Thursday said the EU will propose a tax on financial transactions to the G-20 when it gathers at the end of next week in Toronto, stressing that France and Germany would work together to make this a "major issue" and are even ready to implement it without the support of others.

Sarkozy didn't specify, however, what the proceeds of such a tax would be used for, but France has said in the past it favors using it to fund efforts to control climate change, foster innovation or fight poverty. Germany, on the other hand, sees such a tax as a way to curb speculation....

A person close to the IMF said the report to be submitted to G-20 leaders next week will mention the idea of a financial transaction tax, while making clear it isn't the best way to make the banking sector cover the cost of future crises or to limit systemic vulnerabilities. The report will also point out the concern that the cost of such a tax would be passed on to clients, and that it doesn't necessarily target the riskiest types of trades.

Read the whole article.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 Stock MarketTaxes* International News & CommentaryEurope

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Posted June 22, 2010 at 8:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is pedaling smartly back on his proposal for a financial transactions tax or 'Tobin Tax' after his surprise presentation, delivered at a Group of 20 finance meeting in Scotland, was met with a chorus of criticism over the weekend.

It is believed that Brown's handling of the issue provoked renewed dispute with the Treasury. Chancellor Alistair Darling is said to be frustrated by the prime minister’s promotion of a plan he already knew would be publicly shot down by the US.

The American rejection of the proposal - "A day-by-day financial transactions tax is not something we are prepared to support," said US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (above, with Alistair Darling) - was followed by rejections from Canada, Russia, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 Finance and CB Ministers, Saint Andrews, Scotland, November 2009Stock MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

2 Comments
Posted November 9, 2009 at 7:23 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He comes out solidly against the dumb transaction tax idea. Well worth the time. Watch it all (about 6 1/3 minutes)--KSH.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 Finance and CB Ministers, Saint Andrews, Scotland, November 2009Stock MarketTaxesThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

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Posted November 7, 2009 at 7:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States and Britain voiced disagreement Saturday over a proposal that would impose a new tax on financial transactions to support future bank rescues.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain, leading a meeting here of finance ministers from the Group of 20 rich and developing countries, said such a tax on banks should be considered as a way to take the burden off taxpayers during periods of financial crisis. His comments pre-empted the International Monetary Fund, which is set to present a range of options next spring to ensure financial stability.

But the proposal was met with little enthusiasm by the United States Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, who told Sky News in an interview that he would not support a tax on everyday financial transactions.

What a disappointment Gorden Brown is turning out to be. This is a very bad idea that he has come out behind, and his timing could not be worse. Fortunately, even the Russian finance minister spoke against it. In any event, read it all--KSH.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 Finance and CB Ministers, Saint Andrews, Scotland, November 2009Stock MarketTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentTreasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

2 Comments
Posted November 7, 2009 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop Robert Duncan of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) and Pentecostal Bishop Joseph Garlington of Covenant Church of Pittsburgh in Wilkinsburg, led the congregation in noon prayer, swaying together to the songs as they prayed aloud above the music.

Karen Phillips, an administrative assistant from Greensburg, told the congregation that she felt the history of conflict between many G-20 nations.

"Each one has built a wall. They know how to walk into a room and greet one another, but in their hearts, the walls are up," she said. "I pray that true feelings and emotions will be exchanged, and that in that exchange there will be healing."

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 Pittsburgh Summit September 2009* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsBuddhism

4 Comments
Posted September 26, 2009 at 11:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy



Love the comment about the parks--watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 Pittsburgh Summit September 2009Energy, Natural Resources

10 Comments
Posted September 25, 2009 at 8:49 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In rich countries, more than a third of all energy is used to heat, cool and light buildings, or used within buildings, efficiently or not. Climate change demands we slash that consumption.

That's one reason why President Obama is hosting this week's G-20 summit at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens -- two buildings that are "gold" certified for their energy-efficiency design characteristics by the U.S. Green Buildings Council.

The venues are part of the message: investments in renovation and energy-aware construction can be a big part of a green jobs strategy. If the United States is to be a global competitor in green building technology, it needs to learn from some of the other countries that will be at the table in Pittsburgh.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 Pittsburgh Summit September 2009Energy, Natural Resources

0 Comments
Posted September 25, 2009 at 8:27 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama and the leaders of Britain and France will accuse Iran Friday of building a secret underground plant to manufacture nuclear fuel, saying it has hidden the covert operation from international weapons inspectors for years, according to senior administration officials.

The revelation, which the three leaders will make before the opening of the Group of 20 economic summit here, appears bound to add urgency to the diplomatic confrontation with Iran over its suspected ambitions to build a nuclear weapons capability. Mr. Obama, along with Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, will demand that the country allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct an immediate inspection of the facility, which is said to be 100 miles southwest of Tehran.

American officials say that they have been tracking the covert project for years, but that Mr. Obama decided to make public the American findings after Iran discovered, in recent weeks, that Western intelligence agencies had breached the secrecy surrounding the project. On Monday, Iran wrote a brief, cryptic letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying that it now had a “pilot plant” under construction, whose existence it had never before revealed.

But President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said nothing about the plant during his visit this week to the United Nations, where he repeated his contention that Iran had cooperated fully with inspectors, and that allegations of a nuclear weapons program are fabrications.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyG20 Pittsburgh Summit September 2009Foreign Relations* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

12 Comments
Posted September 25, 2009 at 6:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Standing in the lobby of a Downtown hotel, a key adviser to the U.S. delegation to the G-20 Summit promised an array of religious leaders that he would carry their concern for the poor into the economic conclave.

"We value your input and we know you hold us accountable," said Michael Froman, dubbed the "sherpa," after Himalayan mountain guides, because he leads the way to the summit. He is a deputy national security adviser specializing in global economics. "I appreciate your prayers. We will need them. This summit is about fixing financial systems ... but also about addressing the needs of the most vulnerable."

He cautioned the 30 religious leaders against expecting major new initiatives. He expects to focus on fixing "gaps in the infrastructure of how nations deal with crises," he said. "I hope you will see that this is a meeting that advances the agenda we jointly care about. But it is one step in an ongoing crisis."

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 Pittsburgh Summit September 2009

0 Comments
Posted September 24, 2009 at 8:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When world leaders gathered in April to coordinate action on the international economy, it was in shambles. Billions of dollars in government spending and financial bailouts later, it's on the road to recovery.

The challenge facing leaders gathering here today for the third summit in less than a year is to stay the course rather than declare victory and reverse it, U.S. officials and outside experts say.

"Pittsburgh is not intended to be a victory lap," says Michael Froman, deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs. "We may have come back from the brink, but I don't think people are at all complacent about where we are."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 Pittsburgh Summit September 2009Politics in General

0 Comments
Posted September 24, 2009 at 6:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Low expectations have been met. Divisions on how to deal with the financial crisis remain. Imbalances in the global economy lie uncorrected. But the G20 summit took important steps in improving the machinery for coping with the financial crisis. The mere fact of agreement will have expanded, in Gordon Brown's phrase, the oxygen of confidence in the global economy.

To judge a summit primarily by its contribution to psychology may appear to trivialise a crisis that is widely compared to the Great Depression. Yet confidence is the crucial missing ingredient. Its absence has directly caused the collapse of the Western financial system....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20

2 Comments
Posted April 3, 2009 at 12:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By acting together to fulfil these pledges we will bring the world economy out of recession and prevent a crisis like this from recurring in the future.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20

5 Comments
Posted April 2, 2009 at 1:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Attempting to bridge deep divides in policy and financial philosophy, the leaders of nearly two dozen of the world’s largest economies agreed Thursday to a broad array of new fiscal and regulatory steps, in a desperate effort to revive the paralyzed global economy.

At the conclusion of the first economic summit meeting to rivet world attention in decades, Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain announced that the leaders had committed to $1.1 trillion in additional loans and guarantees to finance trade and bail out troubled countries.

But the funds he announced are well short of a direct injection of stimulus into the world’s economic bloodstream — the result of a continuing division between continental Europe and much of the rest of the world over whether to act now or wait see how current spending measures take effect.

“This is the day the world came together to fight against the global recession,” Mr. Brown declared. “Our message today is clear and certain: we believe global problems require global solutions.”

Read it all. The IMF nes in particular is most welcome..

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20

0 Comments
Posted April 2, 2009 at 1:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain predicted on Thursday that world leaders would bridge their differences on steps to recover from the deepest global economic downturn since World War II, as President Obama and his counterparts from more than 20 industrial and developing countries began a day of talks here.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who greeted Mr. Obama and the other leaders in a seemingly endless cavalcade of motorcades, said the Group of 20 had agreed to tough language against protectionism, including a pledge to “name and shame” countries that erect trade barriers.

Negotiators from the United States and Europe worked frantically to hash out an agreement on new regulations, a day after France and Germany signaled a rift over the level of scrutiny that regulators should have over hedge funds and global financial institutions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

0 Comments
Posted April 2, 2009 at 8:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But despite calls for unity from Mr. Obama and the British prime minister, Gordon Brown — the host of the Group of 20 meeting that formally begins Thursday — the French and German leaders held a joint, and combative, news conference to underscore their differences with the Anglo-American approach to the crisis.

While President Nichoals Sarkozy of France did not repeat an earlier threat to walk out of the conference — “I just got here,” he joked — he made it clear he would reject an agreement that puts off stringent new regulations on banks, tax havens, and hedge funds.

“The decisions need to be taken now, today and tomorrow,” Mr. Sarkozy said. “This has nothing to do with ego. This has nothing to do with temper tantrums. When it comes to historic moments, you can’t circumvent them.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceGermany

0 Comments
Posted April 1, 2009 at 6:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Searching for a broad international consensus in advance of a meeting of the Group of 20 countries to debate the global economic crisis, President Obama played down reports of discord Wednesday, saying that reports of international divisions had been “vastly overstated.”

But, he said at a joint news conference in London with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the nature of the crisis demanded an integrated response.

“We can only meet this challenge together,” he said.

Read it all. I caught the joint news conference during the morning run. Fascinating to be sure--KSH.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted April 1, 2009 at 6:37 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

That’s what “Market to Mother Nature” accounting is all about. It begins with the premise that the distinction between the G-20 and the Copenhagen climate change negotiations is totally artificial. They are just flip sides of the same global problem — how we as a world keep raising standards of living for more and more people in ways that will not, as a byproduct, have both the Market and Mother Nature producing huge amounts of toxic assets.

The old system, which has reached its financial and environmental limits, worked like this: We built more and more stores in America to sell more and more stuff, which was made in more and more Chinese factories powered by more and more coal that earned more and more dollars to buy more and more U.S. T-bills that got recycled back to America in the form of cheap credit to build more and more stores and more and more houses that gave rise to more and more Chinese factories. ...

This system was a powerful engine of wealth creation and lifted millions out of poverty, but it relied upon the risks to the Market and to Mother Nature being underpriced and to profits being privatized in good times and losses socialized in bad times. This capitalist engine doesn’t need to be discarded; it needs some fixes. For starters, we need to get back to basics — accountable lending, prudent saving, reasonable leverage and, most important, more engineering of goods than just financial products.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsG20 Stock MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentTreasury Secretary Timothy GeithnerPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

1 Comments
Posted April 1, 2009 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The event will be an extreme irritant for London’s commuters and traffic. But it is already remarkable in another, more promising way. The financial crisis is the first great test of globalisation. The emerging economies — such as China, India and Brazil — are crucial to resolving the crisis. It is an achievement in itself that the G20, rather than the G7, has become the focus of efforts to stabilise the global economy and reform the financial system.

Mr Brown’s plans for a “new Bretton Woods” system have generated criticism owing to their lack of detail. But it is inevitable that the summit will be richer in symbolism than substance. And to be sure, there is a virtue in the broad sweep: the world’s leaders have the opportunity to restate with intelligence and conviction the arguments for free markets, free trade, and free men and women in the face of heartfelt but fuzzy-brained protest.

It is also a reasonable aim to establish rules for the international financial system so that risks to the wider economy are reduced. Whether or not it proves equal to that task, the G20 has an important role.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyG20 The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted April 1, 2009 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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