Tuesday, April 7, 2009
A single clause in Point 19 of the communiqué issued by the G20 leaders amounts to revolution in the global financial order.
“We have agreed to support a general SDR allocation which will inject $250bn (£170bn) into the world economy and increase global liquidity,” it said. SDRs are Special Drawing Rights, a synthetic paper currency issued by the International Monetary Fund that has lain dormant for half a century.
In effect, the G20 leaders have activated the IMF’s power to create money and begin global “quantitative easing”. In doing so, they are putting a de facto world currency into play. It is outside the control of any sovereign body. Conspiracy theorists will love it.
It has been a good summit for the IMF. Its fighting fund for crises is to be tripled overnight to $750bn. This is real money.
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Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director, said in February that the world was “already in Depression” and risked a slide into social disorder and military conflict unless political leaders resorted to massive stimulus.
He has not won everything he wanted. The spending plan was fudged. While Gordon Brown talked of $5 trillion in global stimulus by 2010, this is mostly made up of packages already under way.
But Mr Strauss-Kahn at least has resources fit for his own task. He will need them. The IMF is already bailing out Pakistan, Iceland, Latvia, Hungary, Ukraine, Belarus, Serbia, Bosnia and Romania. This week Mexico became the first G20 state to ask for help. It has secured a precautionary credit line of $47bn.
Gordon Brown said it took 15 years for the world to grasp the nettle after Great Crash in 1929. “This time I think people will agree that it has been different,” he said.
President Barack Obama was less dramatic. “I think we did OK,” he said. Bretton Woods in 1944 was a simpler affair. “Just Roosevelt and Churchill sitting in a room with a brandy, that’s an easy negotiation, but that’s not the world we live in.”
This article was posted: Tuesday, April 7, 2009 at 9:54 am