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A summit of few achievements

The agreement that followed the G20 summit on April 2 is already being feted as historic but on reflection it’s hard to see what the $1.1trillion boost to the world economy will achieve.

After all we’ve been waiting for Prime Minister Gordon Brown to put our banking system to rights ever since the fall of Northern Rock nearly two years ago. And with the problems at the Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS the situation has got worse rather than better.

True, the problems facing the UK finance industry shouldn’t be underestimated but they are puny in the context of the global economy, so what hope is there of the G20 measures working, even with US President Barack Obama on Brown’s side?

Of course all that extra cash should prevent the world economy sliding into an even deeper recession but it won’t do much to help the economic crisis at home.

In that context, chancellor Alistair Darling’s Budget on April 22 is possibly more important, though given our present state of indebtedness he won’t have any room for manoeuvre.

Intriguingly, the communiqué from the G20 summit was almost as complicated as those mortgage market derivatives that fooled so many company boards and regulators and led to that mountain of toxic assets.

And the G20 leaders had the nerve to claim their measures to support banks were enhancing transparency and shrinking that toxic mountain when the opposite is true. But transparency is not a hallmark of governments.


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