At a 2:30 press conference, Cuban time, after the G-20 Summit concluded, the president of the United States declared that unemployment has reached its highest level in 26 years in his country.
Faced with similar global challenges in the past, the world was slow to act, he said.
“Today we’ve learned the lessons of history […] some of you in the press[…]confused honest and open debate with irreconcilable differences[…]but we have shown that it is possible to arrive at a consensus.
We have agreed to measures directed to solving the situation and to assure that we do not reach this point again sometime in the future. We are committed to job creation […]The U.S. will clean out the troubled assets[…]in order to activate loans to businesses large and small. (Pymes). Our G-20 partners are pursuing similarly comprehensive programs.[… ] We also agreed on bold action to support developing countries […] […]giving them access to loans. At the same time, we’ve also rejected the protectionism that could deepen the crisis.
We’re extending supervision to all systemically important institutions, and we will reform and expand the IMF and World Bank so they are more efficient, effective and representative.
Some $448 billion will be destined to assist the economies of developing countries. We will also support the United Nations and World Bank […] to prevent humanitarian catastrophe.”
The American president answered many of the direct questions of the accredited press.
Some of his statements:
“Well, I think we did okay. You know, when I came here, it was with the intention of listening and learning, but also providing American leadership. And I think that the document that has been produced as well as the concrete actions that will follow reflect a range of our priorities.
We’ve got a global economy, and the initiatives we take must be global for them to be effective. We have had a drastic reduction in U.S. exports …and the contagion from other economies affects other American companies which were looking more solid.”
He also said:
“[…] this is a collective document. But there’s no doubt that each country has its own quirks and own particular issues […] something that is non-negotiable for them. And what we tried to do as much as possible was to accommodate those issues in a way that didn’t — did not hamper the effectiveness of the overall document […]
That does not entirely solve the problem of toxic assets…And how each individual nation acts to deal with that is still going to be vitally important. How well we execute the respective stimulus programs around the world is going to be very important. As well as the recovery plans of each one. What is clear is that the faster we can act, the faster we will all benefit.
I think there has always been a range of opinions about how unfair the free market can be and along with this reputation some suspect globalization and others think that the market is always king, but I believe that if someone has studied history he knows that the market is the most effective mechanism to generate wealth. But there are times when it veers off track and if it is not regulated, if there is no framework to channel the market’s energies, this might lead us to something we don’t want.
In terms of local politics, look, I’m the President of the United States. I’m not the President of China, I’m not the President of Japan, I’m not the President of the other participants here. And so I have a direct responsibility to my constituents to make their lives better […] That accounts for some of the questions here, about how concretely does me being here help them find a job, pay for their home, send their kids to college, live what we call the American Dream.
And[…]international polls seem to indicate that you’re seeing people more hopeful about America’s leadership.
I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think that we had important things to contribute.
We have spoken about Bretton Woods. We are not living in the time of a Roosevelt or a Churchill. That isn’t the world in which we are living today. Europe was rebuilt. China and India are powerhouses. Some other countries are all on the move. And that’s good.
There were occasional comments made about the U.S. role in this crisis. It was mentioned that the United States might have started the crisis on Wall Street and we heard that part of this started on Wall Street.[…] we had a number of firms that took wild and unjustified risks […]and it has taken an enormous toll on the U.S. economy and has spread to the world economy.”
It may be appreciated that Obama’s answers to the journalists were basically addressed to his constituents. They express what the U.S. president is thinking. Undoubtedly, he is much better than Bush and McCain, but his thinking is not geared to the real problems of today’s world. The empire is much more powerful than he or his good intentions are. The G-20 Summit announced in its final communiqué that:
They will triple the resources for the International Monetary Fund to the figure of 750 billion dollars; 500 billion for loans to countries most affected by the crisis and 250 billion for a new Special Drawing Rights (SDR) allocation.
Another 100 billion will be destined to reinforce the multilateral development banks.
On the other hand, they will provide 250 billion to reactivate world trade.
I should point out that these funds will be contributed by the European Union, Japan, China and other countries; as well as through the sales of part of the IMF gold reserves.
The British prime minister stated that a new international order is emerging and added that the old Washington consensus is over and that today’s decisions will not immediately solve the crisis.
The French president claimed that he was “truly happy” about the Summit results, considering that the measures adopted constitute the deepest reform of the financial system since 1945. He didn’t have to walk out of the room.
The U.S. Labor Department informed that in March the number of people continuing to receive unemployment benefits increased to a new historical maximum of 5.73 million.
Obama spoke of Bretton Woods. At the end of World War II, the United States possessed 80% of the world’s gold and its booming economy was intact. Bretton Woods granted it the privilege of issuing the hard currency while the rest of the countries were bankrupt.
They had both dollars and gold. The price of gold remained stable for more than 25 years until the United States government, bankrupt by the imperialist Vietnam War, unilaterally suspended dollar conversion and proceeded to manipulate, at its whim, the economies of the rest of the countries in the world. The crisis is indissolubly wed to the capitalist system of production and distribution. Its main example, the U.S., has suffered two great crises throughout its history that dealt harsh blows to its economy during periods of more than 20 years. This is the third one and recovery from it will be very slow. Europe knows that because of its own bitter experience.
The American transnationals would acquire holdings anywhere in the world by virtue of Bretton Woods. They would pay with gold and with paper money; today they buy them with paper money or “junk money” as the Chinese like to call it. Furthermore, its country has the rare privilege of veto power in the International Monetary Fund. Not one word has been uttered in London that would commit the United States to losing such a privilege. The next crisis will happen much sooner and it will be much more serious than Obama and several of his main G-7 allies could ever imagine. Crises are not resolved by either administrative or technical measures because they are systemic and each time they affect the economy and globalization of the planet.
Not everybody was swept up in the euphoria in London.
An AFP cable informs that on Thursday Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, criticized the G-20 Summit, complaining that the demonstrators and the poorest countries had been excluded.
“As High Commissioner for Human Rights I would say that financial policy should not be limited to the banks, but it should be dedicated to human beings whose concerns ought to be at the centre of the debates. The G-20 Summit should immediately centre its attention on the concerns of the workers and of the poor peasants.”
Numerous demonstrations took place in London to protest against the Summit.
Another cable reports that Jean Ping, president of the African Union Commission, said about the Summit: “We are not asking the countries to dig deep into their pockets to hand out money to us, because they have promised, promised and promised again and they haven’t done a thing. It is a measure that had already been taken last year.”
While in London supposedly lifesaving measures were being adopted, the specter of climate change made its appearance on the very day that the final G-20 agreement was passed, as a tragedy that was more serious than the economic crisis.
An AFP cable informed that:
“According to a new scientific study, around 80% of the Arctic polar ice cap could disappear by a date as near as the year 2040, instead of staying around until 2100 as it had been estimated earlier.”
“At that time, the surface of the Arctic ocean covered by ice at the end of the summer might not go over a million square kilometers, as compared to 4.6 million square kilometers today.” This report was drawn up with data provided by scientists from Washington State University and the U.S. Administration of the Atmosphere and Oceans conducting a joint study. According to that study, the Arctic polar ice cap suffered from a spectacular reduction in size at the end of the summers of 2007 and 2008, when the ice surface had reached 4.3 and 4.7 million square kilometers, respectively.
The applied models allow for a prediction of a practically iceless Arctic in 32 years. According to the scientists, previous models foresaw that scenario happening by the end of the 21st century. An enormous mass of water is accumulated there in the thick polar ice cap at a great height.
Granma repeated that news in today’s edition.
On April 1st I wrote about both problems; the international financial crisis and climate change. The purpose is not to sow discouragement but to build awareness. There is nothing worse than ignorance. No matter how fantastic the sports classics are, we should not sit back and ignore such pressing issues as the economy, the climate and science. I am a sports fan just like anyone else, but man does not live by bread alone.
Fidel Castro Ruz
Abril 3, 2009