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Opinion: Here's what to look for as the rich and powerful meet in London.
The fact is, even those in synch with the Obama machine have their own interests.
Here's a helpful guide to the parochial questions the other 19 members of the G20 want answered:
Argentina, South Africa, Russia: Can we blame the U.S. for this mess and demand more power for ourselves?
The U.S. controls the selection of the presidents of both the IMF and the World Bank, and by virtue of its position as the largest donor, the budgets of both. The IMF is a four-letter word in Argentina, which was hurt badly in the late 1990s when, in exchange for IMF funds, Argentina had to swallow strict fiscal strictures. South Africa has demanded a seat on the U.N. Security Council, and sees its role as an advocate for all of Africa. Russia, meanwhile, is only too happy to blame the West for all the "advice" on banking it has received since the Soviet Union fell.
Australia, Japan, South Korea: Can we ride to health on China's infrastructure spending?
Australia's recent economic boom owes almost everything to Chinese companies that have invested heavily in its mining industries. Similarly, South Korean and Japanese export industries depend heavily on Chinese manufacturing, and they see anything that keeps China from ticking over as good for business.
Brazil: Can we demand reform without looking like we're on Team Chavez?
Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has the credentials of a left-wing labor boss but has run a savvy double game against Washington and the loudmouth Venezuelan leader to his north. Lula embraced populism when it suits him, but Brazil's economic rise in the 1990s was built on a sober form of capitalism. His banks were run by the state, meaning he hasn't been hurt by the subprime disaster. But he still wants to be on Obama's good side.
India, Canada: Can we avoid protectionism?
The Canadian economy, while suffering a downturn, is faring relatively well due to its social safety net and lingering returns from oil during the recent price spike. The collapse of the U.S. auto industry has Canada worried, since many GM units are based on its territory. But mostly, it benefits enormously from NAFTA and free trade generally, and will want to see nothing that legitimizes the populist backlash to the crisis. India, meanwhile, will push for a greater say for developing nations. But more than anything, India wants its products to continue flowing tariff free, and its high tech workers granted visas in America.
France, Germany: Can we say no to Obama's stimulus demands?
Laid off German and French workers don't lose healthcare, and get unemployment benefits for a lot longer than their American counterparts. Put simply, the recession just doesn't hurt as much. But French moves to bail out Renault and other firms have some concerned about creeping protectionism.
Britain: Can I back away from this cliff I'm on?
The disastrous collapse of several British banks turned up the heat on Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who responded by raising expectations that the G20 meeting would not only deliver enormous, coordinated global stimulus spending, but also a plan for comprehensive global financial regulation. With neither likely, Brown is in a difficult spot and Britain's economy, arguably, is the worst hit of any.
Turkey, Indonesia: Can we recognize Islamic finance?
Islam forbids the charging of interest, and Islamic finance is gaining acceptance in commercial markets (London has been seeking to become the global center). Turkey and Indonesia may both push this agenda, though Turkey dislikes the word "Islamic" being applied to anything related to government.
EU: Can I say anything coherent? The European Union is profoundly divided, with Britain, Italy, Spain, Ireland and others in dire need of stimulating growth. But France, Germany and a few others are happy to ride it out. Pity the EU representative, whose job description requires speaking out of both sides of his mouth.
Michael Moran is executive editor of CFR.org, website of the Council on Foreign Relations.
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