G-20 finance gurus gather

By Arthur I. Cyr ,Special to The China Post

Gee whiz, here comes that G-20 again. Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 principal economic powers have just met in Gyeongju, South Korea, for detailed advance work for the November Seoul summit of heads of member governments. This latest gathering of finance gurus has occurred as the United States dollar slides against other currencies, fiscal and payments deficits continue to balloon, and financial services firms remain mired in mortgage foreclosure review misbehavior. From more personal perspectives in the U.S., unemployment persists unacceptably high near 10 percent, individual private debt remains a very heavy collective burden, and political rhetoric escalates emotionally just before the November elections. Who cares about a gathering of government big shots, who dwell in a world removed from the average person? The answer is you should care, for several central reasons.

Today, actions taken by these officials have profound lasting impacts on the majority of the population of the world, national finance ministries manage international policy machinery that is proving to be remarkably effective, and this system long-term has undeniably promoted both global economic prosperity and international political stability. That translates into a better, more secure life for most people. The many who have lost money and lost jobs in the recession have better odds to regain more economic ground, and recover sooner, because of this relatively stable underlying foundation.

In one sense, the G-20 is coming home again through the Korea meetings. The international financial organization was established in 1999, at the end of the last century, spurred by the Asia financial crisis of 1997. In that experience, the sudden collapse of the Thai currency spread like a financial gasoline fire throughout the enormous Pacific region.