The G20 summit at Davos, that resort of the wealthy and powerful in the Swiss mountains, has come to an end with no solutions to the global economic crisis threatening the world.
One thing not in short supply, however, was words:
If you believe that the world economy will turn the corner at the end of this year, or in [the first quarter] of 2010, I tell you we have not turned the corner, we can’t see the corner, we don’t even know where the corner is.” ~ a top money manager.
“The G20 will not solve everything. It won’t address the totality of the issue.” ~ Klaus Schwab, founder of the economic forums.
“We don’t know what to do, only that we need to do something and we need to do it fast” ~ an unnamed participant.
“We worshiped in the temple of cutthroat competition, and so some cooked the books, because the treasure is so great. We spend billions on banks, when we know that a fraction of this money could save all the children in the world.” ~ Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
“Capitalism is the worst system, except for all those others that have been tried.” ~ Nouriel Roubini (with a nod to Winston Churchill).
(When Churchill made this quote, he was referring to ‘democracy’, not ‘capitalism’, but, what the hell, capitalism and democracy have become synonymous for many in the 21st century).
The question arising from this failure is obvious: if the top financial experts of the world can spend a week holed up together and come away scratching their heads, where does that leave the rest of us?
The answer is equally stark: leaderless.
When foreign heads of government like Britain’s Gordon Brown (who, a few weeks back, proclaimed he had saved the world only to discover he’d forgotten to carry a few noughts while calculating his long division) fail utterly to devise a financial strategy tinged with any hope of success, all eyes turn on the one nation with no representatives in Davos this week.
Where the rest have failed, can the United States, in the form of Barack Obama, come up with a solution to leave other leaders gasping in wonder and weeping tears of admiration?
President Obama rose to power on a tide of high expectancy. Eight years of George W Bush demoralized the world so badly that anyone with more than a modicum of intelligence and ability would have been hailed as a political hero. Let’s face it, Obama was the only candidate from either party (with the possible exception of Hillary Clinton) to meet or exceed these criteria, but even he would be the first to admit he’s no God.
He hasn’t any better idea what will create economic recovery than the shower of over-educated, over-privileged, pseudo-intellectual bores enjoying the expensive delights of Davos this week, though it’s likely he has more common sense and intelligence than all the them, collectively.
If so, it won’t take him long to realize that every journey begins with a first step. In this instance the first step has to be convincing the populace of America and the world that he means business. It’s the only way to instill confidence, and without the confidence of the world behind him, his chances of failure are magnified many times.
There is no greater way to inspire confidence in the masses, than to convince them that whatever happened to cause this crisis will not be allowed to occur again.
The way to do that is by locking up those responsible, for a very, very, long time.
Without doubt, the Bush regime allowed powerful financial institutions to run riot with other people’s money, lining their own pockets copiously while gambling away pensions and savings they were entrusted with keeping secure. It will likely go down in history as the greatest heist of all time, and as yet, no-one has been apprehended and brought before the courts.
Well, not quite no-one. Bernard Madoff was quickly arrested for his little Ponzi scheme, but then he had the nerve to rob, not the ordinary citizens of their savings, but the rich and powerful of their tax avoidance dollars.
In a capitalist society, that’s not a crime to go unpunished and will motivate law enforcement to pull out all the stops in bringing the perpetrator to justice.
President Barack Obama needs to realize all US citizens have a right to the same standard of justice. By instigating a full scale FBI investigation into the causes of this latest economic crisis, apprehending those responsible and exposing them to the full impact of the US judiciary, he will be reassuring Americans and the world that such heinous crimes will never again be tolerated.
Only when the perpetrators are behind bars, with little hope of release in their lifetimes, will the working people of this nation regain sufficient confidence in its financial institutions to render an economic recovery viable.
 “Davos finds no answers to crisis” BBC, February 1st 2009
Filed under: Hang ’em high