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G20 Leaders Wrap Up Their Economic Summit

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Group of 20 leaders wrapped up their summit Friday with agreements intended to prevent future economic meltdowns, and giving key emerging nations a larger voice in international economic issues.  

U.S. President Barack Obama said the G20 leaders agreed on concrete steps to prevent another financial meltdown like the current one that has pushed millions of people into unemployment and cost trillions of dollars in lost wealth.

"Never again let the schemes a reckless few put the world's financial system and our peoples' wellbeing at risk," he said.
 
He said the agreement generally increases regulation of the financial system, and calls for banks to keep larger reserves to cover losses from bad loans and failed investments.

He said the leaders crafted procedures to cope with the failure of major financial firms in an orderly way that minimizes damage to the financial system and the public treasury.
 
And he said there will be new rules governing the way bankers get paid. 

"We will tie executive pay to long-term performance so that sound decisions are rewarded instead of short-term greed. In short our financial system will be far more secure than the one that failed so dramatically last year," he said.

European leaders wanted specific limits on the huge bonuses that critics said encouraged bankers to take reckless risks in pursuit of short term profits.
 
The agreement stops short of that, but calls for complex rules intended to restrain bonus payments.

Mr. Obama said the economic picture has improved, but there is a long way to go before recovery is complete.

Many G20 members have been trying to bolster their economies by cutting interest rates and raising spending on public works.  The leaders said the fledgling recovery still needs help, and pledged to continue stimulus efforts for a while.

And leaders of the world's wealthiest nations, including Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and the heads of key emerging economies agreed to use the G20 as a forum to debate and decide international economic issues.  "The G20 will now be seen as the premier economic organization for dealing with issues of economic management around the world," he said.

That is a change from the tradition of putting such issues before the G8, made up of mostly wealthy western countries.

The change recognizes that develolping nations like India and China are a large and growing share of the world's economic output. Carnegie Mellon University Economics Professor Lester Lave says the economic crisis made the change urgent. 

"Your people and your economy are being put at risk by nations that are not necessarily thinking about you or their good, so you would want to have more of a say in what is going on," he said.

The two day summit in Pittsburgh is the third meeting of G20 leaders in less than a year as nations struggle to ease the recession.

Their efforts did not impress the thousands of protesters who complained that the global economic system is unfair, and that G20 nations do too little to help the poor.  Police made some arrests and used tear gas to cope with some of the demonstrations.

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