Wednesday, January 17, 2007


The G8 and the UN, including the Bretton Woods institutions, must become more effective - per UK

Today's Guardian reports on the visit to India by the UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr Brown's comments bring the agendas of the G8 and the G20 even closer together - do we really need both public organisations?

fast-growing developing countries [are] to be given a far bigger role as he outlined what is likely to be a central theme of his premiership if, as expected, he replaces Tony Blair as prime minister later this year. In his first major foray into foreign policy this year Mr Brown said the world had moved on since the UN, IMF and World Bank were created at the end of the second world war. "The post-1945 system of international institutions, built for a world of sheltered economies and just 50 states, is not yet broken but - for a world of 200 states and an open globalisation - urgently in need of modernisation and reform."

Mr Brown said the G7 - the US, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan - should be expanded. "Beginning with the UK presidency (in 2005), India has been in attendance at meetings of G7 finance ministers and as part of the G8 plus 5 group has attended the G8. It is time to formally recognise on a more consistent and regular basis the reality of this emerging new world order."

Together and in the same spirit we should focus on modernisation of the United Nations, so that it has the right role for the modern world, not least as an effective peacemaker and peacekeeper." Mr Brown commended India for being the third biggest provider of UN peacekeepers and called on other countries to share the burden.

NB: The first three provide over a third of UN peacekeepers. Pakistan volunteered 9867, Bangladesh 9681 and India 9483 (December 2006). UN Peacekeeping

America has exerted particularly strong influence over the fund and bank, but the chancellor said they could not be effective unless modernised - "the IMF to ensure the stability of the whole world economy, with its primary role no longer to manage balance of payments crises but on crisis prevention through the surveillance of our economies.

And as a bank for development, the World Bank should have a focus for the first time on energy security and environmental care.


G8 contributions to UN peacekeeping in December were:

Italy volunteered 2,462 (8th biggest contributor); France 1,988 (10); Germany 1,143 (18); United Kingdom 358 (40); United States of America 324 (43); Russia 291 (45); Canada 132 (61); Japan 31 (81)

Monday, January 08, 2007


Growth and responsibility in the global economy

The official website of the German presidency is here.

The agenda is here, and includes the aim of reducing imbalances in the global economy.

In connection with this aim, the US Council on Foreign Relations has recently published a paper on floating exchange rates, a system that replaced the world's fixed exchange rates in the 1970's and is said to have caused instability in the economy.


Floating exchange rates have proved a source of tremendous periodic instability, yielding repeated currency crises in countries whose currencies are not acceptable for international transactions, but which build up imbalances in their national balance sheets through their imports of dollar capital. The fundamental difference between capital flows under indelibly fixed and flexible exchange rates was well known generations ago, decades before the modern era of globalisation.

It was well understood before the Bretton Woods era [pre 1945] that monetary nationalism would fundamentally change the way capital flows naturally operate, making of a benign economic force one that would necessarily wreak havoc with flexible exchange rates. The global monetary order that has emerged since the 1970s is now globalisation’s greatest source of vulnerability.

What is to be done? Realistically, sauve qui peut must be the message for nations whose currencies are not wanted by foreigners. Dollarization—abandonment of parochial currencies in favor of the dollar, euro or other internationally accepted money—is, in a world of fiat currencies, unsupported by gold or silver, the only way to globalize safely.

Of course, the status of internationally accepted money is not heaven-bestowed and there is no way effectively to insure against the unwinding of "global imbalances" should China, with nearly $1,000bn (€755bn) of reserves, and other reserve-rich central banks come to fear the unbearable lightness of their fiat holdings. Digitized commodity money may then be in store for us. . . As radical and implausible as it may sound, digitizing the earth’s 2,500-year experiment with commodity money may ultimately prove far more sustainable than our recent 35-year experiment with monetary sovereignty.

Friday, January 05, 2007


G8 - Africa again

Should the United Nations be able to employ its own military resources to impose the will of the global community - on Darfur in Africa, for example? Africa is said to be a priority yet again for the G8 - in 2007.

The people of Darfur should be rescued by a UN military force, suggests retired Gulf War commander Colonel Tim Collins on BBC radio today. The UN needs to look at improving its peacekeeping and enforcing its new responsibility to protect

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Politics versus business

The G8 presidency of Russia is now over. Germany is in charge for 2007.

Nevertheless the number one item on the G8 agenda is still energy.

On this subject, the former head of energy giant Yukos - Mikhail Khodorovsky - wrote last month in the Economist. The essay started: "In all likelihood, 2007 will turn out to be a truly watershed year in recent human history - the year in which we will see an acceleration in the formation of a new world order."

Perhaps 2007 will also see a reconciliation of politics and business.

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