Fifteen years ago a group of rich countries gathered for its annual get-together at the Gleneagles hotel in Perthshire, Scotland. A number of African leaders were invited to the summit, from which a deal emerged: the west’s major powers would provide debt relief and aid in return for cleaner and better governance.
The Gleneagles deal wasn’t perfect but it marked a high point in international cooperation. At a time when the big developed nations can’t even agree a collective response to the Covid-19 pandemic among themselves, it all seems a long time ago.
The comparison between the financial firepower being deployed in developed nations and the low-income countries of sub-Saharan Africa is stark.… Seguir leyendo »
Cast your mind back three years to the heady days of autumn 2006. House prices were booming. Financial markets were bullish. The International Monetary Fund reported that global growth over a five-year period was at its strongest since the late 1960s.
In vain did the fund warn that there might be problems ahead – from over-exuberant banks, from high commodity prices and from the dangerous imbalance in the global economy between those countries that exported too much and those that exported too little.
So here’s the question. What, apart from a stonking great recession, has actually changed? Oil prices are higher than they were in late 2006, the banking system remains unreformed (and pretty much unrepentant) and the global imbalances remain untackled.… Seguir leyendo »
Let’s hear it for Silvio Berlusconi. A bargain basement Benny Hill he may be, but the prime minister fonder of cavorting with young women than keeping promises to the world’s poorest countries has helped expose what a cynical shambles the G8 summit has become.
Officials say that this year’s shindig in L’Aquila will be the most pointless ever – and, believe me, that is saying something. It is up to the host country to set the tone for the meeting, which involves preparing an agenda and chivvying the other, reluctant, members of the club to sign up to a high-minded initiative to eradicate poverty from Africa, tackle climate change and fight the good fight against protectionism by completing the Doha round of trade talks.… Seguir leyendo »
Stock markets were in jubilant mood yesterday after the US treasury announced it was putting the two big beasts of the American mortgage market into «conservatorship». Don’t be misled by this ugly piece of economics jargon: it’s just another way of saying nationalisation – and it was somewhat bizarre to find the equity markets of Tokyo, London and New York, where dealers profess to exalt the free market, whooping for joy at the state taking a grip.
The reason for the rise in share prices was pure relief. Just as they were at the time of the run on Northern Rock a year ago this week, just as they were when Bear Stearns went under in March – and just as they were at the end of last week – stock markets have been in a complete funk at the mounting losses from the credit crisis.… Seguir leyendo »