Advanced governments’ desperation

The only thing I found remotely interesting about the latest G20 Financial Summit was the triple-ranked group photo. There were 17 Finance Ministers sitting on draped chairs in the front row. Evidently, 3 of them were indisposed or had some sort of financial emergency in their own country.

Standing behind them was a second row of 18 — central bank governors presumably. But who comprised the third row of 20 individuals standing on a raised ledge behind? They had to be senior civil servants — probably top people in their respective Treasury Departments.

In terms of formal political prestige, the three rows ranked downwards when proceeding from the politicians at the bottom to the individuals at the top. However, in terms of Realpolitik, then, if the governments of the 20 countries are anything like the US and the UK, you can be sure that pragmatic manipulative power in the first two rows is less than among those along the top row.

The original intention of the Summit was, in the words of one newspaper — “to stimulate a new era of innovative economic growth”. But what did the Summit decide? Certainly the date of the next Summit. Stimulating growth? Hardly.

Besides, if there were a method of getting hooked onto a growth path again you can be certain that the country that discovered it would not be sharing it at a meeting with potential competitors. It would get on with it as fast as it could in order to establish an advantage before the others catch on

The only possible reason for the G20 Summits to be held at all — and the inevitable group photos — is that governments of 20 countries are trying to convince their electorates that they are conscientiously trying to do their best. Individually, they all know that they are baffled.

More to the point, advanced governments are becoming pretty desperate, not yet able to face the possibility of having to explain to their electorates that the industrial revolution as we have known is largely over and done with and that a totally different era is gradually taking shape.

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