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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Obama eclipses America at world summit

    The G-20 meeting was billed as a global response to the recession of 2008-2009. A “”Let’s not screw this up like 1933″” type of event to bolster confidence in the markets and stymie the continual downward spiral of the global economy.

    Since last week, journalists and major news outlets have covered almost every inch of the event, outlining in minute detail everything from the successes and failures of the summit to the choice of outfits by Michelle Obama. In a single memorable statement defining the conference, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown trumpeted that, “”This is the day the world came together to fight against the global recession. Our message today is clear and certain: we believe that global problems require global solutions.”” A lovely overture toward solving our economic problems; however, when are we actually supposed to start working on the global solutions?

    For an event that was supposed to respond to the “”current”” situation, the tone and rhetoric of the most influential players, the United States and the European Union, was quite different. The American pre-game was to encourage the French and Germans to embrace deficit spending, a la Keynesian stimulus, and multiplier-effect ourselves towards growth. Conversely, the Europeans’ game plan was to sandbag any effort of “”crass Keynesianism””, parlay any immediate action, and cede “”guilt-induced”” concessions from America as means towards forming a new global regulatory financial framework. Both sides fell short of these goals, and in compromise, the dark horse called the IMF (International Monetary Fund) gained from the stalemate. Even the Chinese representation, the most quixotic of the bunch, merely squabbled with the French over tax havens to be “”noted.””

    Although I’m not trying to drown out the event, much like the now-traditional Paul Krugman-styled recession death march, the focus on the Ambassador of Capitalism himself, Mr. Obama, provides much insight to how the world viewed the summit.

    For all the loud mutter over creating an independent reserve world currency and America’s failed model of capitalism, ultimately, Europe and the rest of the world have deferred to America’s leadership at the same time that they have questioned it. The “”global solutions”” promised and lauded in the days running up to the convention were simply political gestures for one’s own national constituency and sold more papers than they did true believers. The implicit reality behind the G-20 meeting is that Geithner and Co. and Ben’s Fed are going to have to step up to the plate on this one.

    With months of planning stuffed into a few short days, it is no surprise that few definitive moves were made by either the United States or Europe. Not even the “”social safety net”” argument made by Europe, argued in defense against deficit spending, could be fully scrutinized on the international stage. The lack of substantive consensus is even apparent in the circus of media oriented toward the Obamas’ presence in Europe instead of focusing on the G-20 summit. It seems the major headlines weren’t focused on the “”real debates”” that became circular, but were often oriented towards the spectacle of the Obamas.

    For every headline outlining major discussions, there were at least two or three pitting Michelle Obama vs. Carla Bruni in a “”Zoolander””-style walk off. For all the controversy over Michelle Obama touching the Queen of England and presenting her with an iPod, no one wants to touch on the real issue of the toxic assets plaguing our financial institutions. While the world surrendered itself to mere goal setting and “”let’s do lunch sometime”” promises, little definitive action was taken today.

    For all the successes lauded by the G-20 participants and goofy photos taken to further propagate the illusion of world unity, the stark reality of America’s role in the world has never shined so bright. At a time when our country is supposed to be weakened by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, our spirits and confidence broken by the markets, and our regulatory system deemed ineffective by many, we are still the go-to guys.

    Obama may have performed masterfully, however, his presence was backed by the confidence, hopes, and dreams that define not only our nation’s wealth but also the ingenuity and perseverance of the American public. America will continue to lead in the 21st century and our capital markets are still the envy of the world.

    It is now clear that coming up with the “”global solutions”” to a global economic crisis now definitively rests in the palms of our country’s most capable hands.

    Paul Cervantes is an accounting and business economics senior. He can be reached at

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