Although the Group of Eight has often been used for gestures, it affords a rare opportunity for common action by the governments of major countries. Manifestly, there have been serious deficiencies in global economic governance. By addressing them the G-8 can help not only ourselves, but the people struggling in the world’s poorest countries. This has been Britain’s agenda as host of this year’s G-8.

At the top of the agenda has been taxation. Tax cooperation has not kept pace with the internationalization of business and the innovations of corporate lawyers and accountants. Treaties designed to avoid double taxation now deliver double non-taxation.…  Seguir leyendo »

The world’s most significant social, political and economic development is its aging population. Little wonder that Europe has declared 2012 the year of active and healthy aging.

Within five years, for the first time in history, the number of adults 65 and older will exceed the number of children younger than 5, the World Health Organization reports. By mid-century, this demographic will outnumber children younger than 14, and more than 2 billion of the people on Earth will be 60 or older.

By 2050, U.N. data show, 33 countries will each have more than 10 million citizens who are 60 and older, including Brazil with 58 million, China with 437 million, India with 324 million, Indonesia with 70 million and the United States with 107 million.…  Seguir leyendo »

Occidente ha muerto, viva Occidente. Así podríamos resumir el mensaje del viaje de Barack Obama a Europa hasta ahora, y su discurso en Westminster Hall. Hubo un instante retórico que solo Obama podía ofrecer. Un elocuente fragmento sobre la idea de que la diversidad bien integrada es una ventaja para las sociedades estadounidense y británica culminó en la observación de que esa era la razón por la que "el nieto de un keniano que sirvió como cocinero en el Ejército británico" podía "hablar ante ustedes como presidente de Estados Unidos". La frase le granjeó el primer y único aplauso espontáneo de los parlamentarios británicos allí reunidos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tiene razón el gobernador del Banco de España cuando afirma: «Hasta el momento, las autoridades públicas de la mayoría de los países han resistido con notable éxito las tendencias intervencionistas y nacionalistas y se han dado pasos determinantes en la búsqueda de soluciones cooperativas en el ámbito financiero». Las lecciones de la crisis del 29 son demasiado evidentes para olvidarlas. Pero no estoy seguro que se haya hecho todo lo posible, ni siquiera que pasado el miedo al derrumbe del sistema financiero los países no vuelvan a las andadas. No debo ser el único que anda preocupado, el hoy director del departamento del Mercado de Capitales del FMI y anterior subgobernador de la autoridad monetaria española, José Viñals se ha visto obligado a alertar que se está perdiendo la oportunidad irrepetible de adoptar a escala internacional un nuevo modelo de regulación y supervisión financiera, y que si no se hace ahora no se hará nunca.…  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 »

All politics are local, goes the old aphorism. Yet today, we can say that all problems are global. As world leaders meet at the G8 summit in Italy, they will have to update their politics to grapple with problems that none of them can solve alone. The last two years have witnessed a cascade of interconnected crises: financial panic, rising food and oil prices, climate shocks, a flu pandemic, and more. Political co-operation to address these problems is not a mere nicety. It has become a global necessity.

The intensity of global interconnectedness is stunning. The H1N1 influenza virus was identified in a Mexican village in April.…  Seguir leyendo »

Is there any point to the continued existence of G8? As this week's summit looks increasingly irrelevant, should we care if the power shifts away to the G20?

President Lula of Brazil has declared that G8 "doesn't have any reason to exist". Next year's hosts, Canada, are being urged by their own commentariat to turn their G8 into a G20. Meanwhile this year's hosts, Italy, are trying to bring more countries into the G8 tent, to reduce the glaring gap between the two. In doing so, they are basically accepting the logic that it's the wrong group of countries to have in the room to address the problems of the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

Silvio Berlusconi was born in 1936, the same year that Hitler hosted the Summer Olympics. It would be fair to say that the bevy of women now talking of their steamy nights with the Italian leader probably don’t even remember Italia 90, let alone anything pre-Anschluss. And so the Commedia dell’Arte rumbles on, with Mr Berlusconi’s lawyer playing the unlicensed court fool.

All this could just be another seedy tale if it wasn’t for the fact that the Prime Minister of Italy not only leads this merry dance but is chairing next week’s G8 summit in L’Aquila.

Despite Mr Berlusconi’s position as longest-serving G8 leader, this old boys’ club of rich nations should surely be embarrassed that the Italian leader is playing host.…  Seguir leyendo »

It's easy, what with the duck ponds, ministerial hissy fits, and media hysteria in the Westminster village, to see how events in Africa can slip under the political radar – events like a few million people dropping below the poverty line, surging child malnutrition, and parents struggling to keep their kids in school.

We are now just a few weeks from the G8 summit in Italy. With Africa on the brink of a major development reversal caused by global recession, it is vital that the summit acts decisively to support recovery. This is the most important meeting on African poverty since the Gleneagles summit four year ago.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Bush and other leaders of the Group of Eight pledged yesterday to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2050. A key consideration in evaluating climate policies is the economic cost of cutting emissions. That cost could be reduced, perhaps by a lot, depending on two key questions about domestic climate policies: whether flexibility is provided when emissions are reduced and whether allowances to emit carbon are sold or given away.

The most common proposal for reducing carbon emissions involves a cap-and-trade program. Such programs provide flexibility regarding where and how firms reduce emissions. That's a good start, but research suggests that businesses also need flexibility about when they reduce emissions if they are to minimize economic costs.…  Seguir leyendo »

The G8 summit, which opens today on Hokkaido, in Japan, conjures images of a political A&E ward on a Saturday night. President Bush, leader of the greatest nation on earth, is discredited and almost time-expired. Gordon Brown leads a government most of whose own members want him to disappear into a hole.

Silvio Berlusconi presides over a gangster culture that renders it impossible for Italy to present a serious face to the world. Nicolas Sarkozy should enjoy the prestige of a French president secure in office until 2012, but he has grievously injured his own power base by his first-year antics.…  Seguir leyendo »

The past decade has been little short of amazing. Storms that might once have driven the world on to the rocks of recession - the Asian and Russian financial meltdowns, 9/11 and the grim and costly business of confronting Islamist terrorism, not to mention a slew of exceptionally destructive natural disasters - have been weathered with surprising ease.

The grim predictions as the last century ended were that an open, increasingly globalised and technology-driven world economy would condemn Western workers to “a race to the bottom”, in a fruitless struggle to compete with China and other low-cost producers. Instead, the rising Asian tide lifted all boats, even some rickety African ones, boosting job prospects and average incomes in almost every corner of the globe.…  Seguir leyendo »

John McCain would kick Russia out of the Group of Eight economic powers that meet in Japan this week. But this is no time to think small. The G-8 leaders themselves should declare surrender and disband their high-profile huddle on the state of the world.

Think of it as global shock therapy: Using the July 7-9 summit on Hokkaido Island to abandon the bloated, unwieldy G-8 format would be a first step toward acknowledging and rethinking -- at the highest level -- these important international realities:

· The world that these leaders and their predecessors have promised for the past three decades is not today's world of energy and food-price shocks, global financial irresponsibility, menacing climate change, and terrorist networks seeking weapons of mass destruction.…  Seguir leyendo »

Global growth is the leitmotif of our era. The great economic expansion, now in its fifth decade, has raised living standards worldwide and lifted billions out of poverty.

Yet today, many wonder how long it can last. The reason: Plenty comes at an increasingly high price. We see it daily in the rising cost of fuel, food and commodities. Consumers in developed countries fear the return of "stagflation" -- inflation coupled with slowing growth or outright recession -- while the world's poorest no longer can afford to eat.

Meanwhile, climate change and environmental degradation threaten the future of our planet. Population growth and rising wealth place unprecedented stress on the Earth's resources.…  Seguir leyendo »

Wherever you turn in Davos, you see the World Economic Forum's modest motto: "Committed to improving the state of the world." Well, it needs it. So here's one practical step: the G8 should be expanded to G14, adding China, India, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and Indonesia. Arbitrary? To be sure. Tactless? You bet. Deeply offensive to some important countries not on that list? Obviously - and they will cry havoc, foul and blue murder. But sometimes, if you're committed to improving the state of the world, you have to be a little brutal.

The dangers of climate change, nuclear proliferation, disease and poverty - not to mention the fragile state of globalised capitalism - demand a more credible and representative cast at the annual intergovernmental summit.…  Seguir leyendo »

La cumbre del G-8 que se reunió la semana pasada en la localidad alemana de Heiligendamm ha arrojado ciertos resultados, al menos moderados. De todas formas, ¿no es lo acostumbrado en estos casos? Prevista al inicio como una consulta informal entre jefes de Estado, las reuniones de los representantes del G-8 se han convertido en pesadas y aburridas cumbres diplomáticas anuales. Abordan las cuestiones más variadas y se preparan minuciosamente con meses de antelación. Congregan a miles de personas, ya se trate de jefes de Estado o de Gobierno con sus correspondientes séquitos de asesores y colaboradores sin olvidar a los miles de periodistas y manifestantes que acuden invariablemente a la cita.…  Seguir leyendo »

Post-G8 report cards are for the most part judging that the emphasis in Germany last week was on climate change, with the fight against poverty in Africa and the developing world taking a back seat. In truth, however, the two are so closely intertwined that they cannot be considered separately. Just as skewed global trade and political systems stack the deck against developing countries struggling to escape the poverty trap, it also limits their scope for effective action on climate change.

Progressive efforts to tackle climate change in Africa and the developing world are almost invariably hamstrung by global political, trade and finance rules and realities.…  Seguir leyendo »

¿Han ofrecido alguna vez una fiesta que se haya echado a perder lastimosamente por culpa de un necio invitado? Siete viejos amigos se reúnen para cenar, pero para completar el grupo se añade otro comensal a la lista de invitados. Los siete amigos se disponen a pasar una tranquila velada charlando sobre cuestiones de interés común (precios de la vivienda, recibos del colegio de los niños...). Pero he aquí que, para horror de los presentes, al nuevo invitado - a instancia, tal vez, de su sensación de inseguridad- le da por provocar una desagradable discusión quejándose de que sus vecinos han instalado en su ordenador un cortafuegos inalámbrico de modo que han bloqueado su acceso a pornografía en la red.…  Seguir leyendo »

La celebración de esta Cumbre Ampliada del G-8 en Heiligendamm, Alemania, ofrece una nueva oportunidad a los líderes de Suráfrica, Brasil, China, India y México para profundizar en el diálogo, iniciado en Evián en 2003, con las principales economías industrializadas sobre temas prioritarios de la agenda internacional.

Año tras año, estas reuniones van fortaleciéndose y adquiriendo mayor reconocimiento al introducir nuevos enfoques en los debates del G-8. Estoy convencido de que el cambio climático, el desarrollo sostenible, las fuentes de energía nuevas y renovables y la financiación para el desarrollo son temas sobre los que es necesario que las principales economías emergentes hagan oír más su voz, no sólo porque las poblaciones de nuestros países se ven directamente afectadas, sino por la capacidad de nuestras naciones de formular e implantar propuestas innovadoras para responder a esos múltiples desafíos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Madeleine Bunting rightly identifies the complexity of the aid debate, one which has left Africans and people across the developing world floundering for far too long (Bob Geldof too has a part to play in the G8's broken promises to Africa, June 4).However, the fault lies clearly at the door of the G8 leaders for back-pedalling on their commitments rather than on the campaigners who merely tried to hold them to account. Bunting says: "What Make Poverty History didn't even attempt to explain to the generation it was trying to recruit was that campaigns on global justice have to be counted in decades, not months, let alone weeks."…  Seguir leyendo »