As another G20 meeting rolls around, this time on home soil, the time comes once again for the economically curious but politically unconnected to wonder what is really happening behind closed doors. But while admiring the pageantry, chuckling at the awkward group photos, and parsing the joint communiques like newly found Dead Sea scrolls, the overwhelming majority of observers will miss the meeting’s dominant theme: hypocrisy.
Everyone agrees that the principal agenda item in Pittsburgh will be the need to rein in the “global imbalances” that created the late economic crisis. Everyone also agrees that these imbalances involve too much spending and borrowing by Americans and too little of both by the Chinese and other developing nations. In his remarks this week at the United Nations, President Obama used his peerless rhetorical skill to frame the issues clearly and plainly. Noting that a return to pre-crisis economics is impossible, the president assured the world that his administration will pursue policies to increase savings and decrease spending at home and challenged his Chinese counterparts to enact measures with the opposite effect in their own country.Published in