Friday Wrap

Can The G20 Get Its Mojo Back?
Flawless is certainly not a term used by many analysts to describe the recent G20 meeting. Distracted might be a better characterization. Without the urgency of the financial crisis driving leaders toward coordination, the meetings seemed to lack an agenda, argue Andre Stein and Miro Vassilev.

“There is no longer a deep sense of unified urgency on the global economy that binds G20 leaders together. Rather, the perception that the worst of the global financial crisis has been averted has removed the discipline that comes with financial terror.

“G20 members’ economic cycles and monetary policy objectives are no longer synchronized. Major importers (i.e. deficit countries) such as France, the U.K. and the U.S. have opposing views on how global economic imbalances must be tackled, compared to large exporters such as Germany and China that enjoy significant current account surpluses,” they assert.

The pair are quick to add that the G20 can get back on track by pursuing an short list of initiatives and reforms that are as politically palatable to a majority of nations while avoiding the more controversial or contentious issues.

Washington’s Debt Limit Debate Highlights Fragility Of Global Economy
In a global economy, the actions of one nation do not occur in isolation. This is particularly true when that one nation is one of the world’s largest economies.

“US Treasuries are the bedrock of the international financial system, so default could spark a chain reaction of rising interest rates and cascading bankruptcies, pushing not just the US, but the entire world economy back into deep recession,” notes Jeremy Warner in London’s Daily Telegraph.

While the fight in Washington was avoidable, Warner says the extent to which it could affect the efforts to crawl out of this recessionary period underscores the fragility of the international economy.

“Perceived default-risk hangs like a pall over all gainful activity. This is at its most obvious in Europe, but it applies virtually everywhere else as well. Anyone who thinks the Eurozone debt crisis is over is sadly deluded. As with the world economy as a whole, some kind of new but impaired equilibrium seems to have established itself, but it is of an inherently unstable variety.”

UN Deserves Criticism, But Also Praise
The United Nations often finds itself painted as an inefficient, out-of-touch institution governed by corrupt officials. In many cases the criticism is warranted, particularly when brutal regimes are appointed seats on the UN Human Rights Council.

But, as Joel Brinkley points out in a recent article, the UN also makes a valuable contribution.

Its value might be immeasurable to the refugees fleeing Syria. Early this month the United Nations succeeded in convincing at least 15 other countries to begin taking in Syrian refugees.

“Most people worldwide who pay attention to the UN follow the action (or inaction) of the Security Council. It’s usually deadlocked on Syria, North Korea, and so many other issues of importance because of the council’s out-of-date veto rule, ensuring that almost no difficult or controversial proposal will pass.

“But the Security Council is just one part of a vast agency with numerous offices that do important work—not just in the Middle East, but all over the world,” he writes noting the UN’s work on to find safe haven for refugees.

Russia Decreasing Nuclear Forces As US Increases
New data from the New START Treaty show Russia continues to reduce its nuclear forces, while the United States moves along a path of expansion, reports the Federation of American Scientists.

The data does not mean the US is increasing its forces, rather it is indicates the US is slow-walking its reduction.

“But even when the reductions finally get underway, the New START Treaty data illustrates an enduring problem: the growing disparity between U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces,” Hans Christensen posits.

He offers further clarification: “Put in another way: unless the United States significantly reduces its ICBM force beyond the 400 or so planned under the New START Treaty, and unless Russia significantly increases deployment of new missiles beyond what it is currently doing, the United States could end up having nearly as many launchers in the ICBM-leg of its Triad as Russia will have in its entire Triad.





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