Sameer Dossani, Guest Blogger

While much of the media coverage around the G20 leaders summit has been about the failure of international diplomacy in Syria, the formal agenda was around one issue: growth. Growth through jobs, growth through transparency, and growth through effective regulation—these were the three themes the Russian government prioritized for this year’s summit.

One could perhaps argue that the obsession with growth is appropriate. The US economy—the source of the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression—is again growing, but when compared with previous economic recoveries the pace of growth has been extremely sluggish. Economists estimate that at current rates of growth and job creation, the US will not achieve anything close to full employment before 2022. Most G8 economies—especially in Europe—are in worse shape and even China and India are seeing growth expectations slow down.

But focusing on growth is a bit like treating strep throat with asprin. You may alleviate some of the symptoms, but you’re not treating the source of the problem.

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Dale Wiehoff, Guest Blogger

On September 3 and 4, a large-scale international Counter Summit, intended as an alternative to the September Summit of the G-20, will be held in St. Petersburg, Russia. It is taking place at the Международный Деловой Центр, nab.reki Smolenki 2, and is organized by the Post Globalization Initiative. The Summit’s ambition is to develop new principles of economic and social policy which are not based on the Washington Consensus. As part of the Summit, world renowned experts, economists, politicians and social scientists from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas will come together for panel discussions, seminars, and public lectures, including Dr. Steve Suppan of IATP. Dr. Suppan will address speculation in commodity markets.

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Nancy Alexander, Guest Blogger

The Communique of G20 Finance Ministers & Central Bank Governors Meeting (April 18-19, 2013) was recently released.

The Communique “underscores the importance of long-term financing for investment, including in infrastructure, in enhancing economic growth and job creation.”  In addition, it emphasizes the G20′s latest views on a variety of issues, including the European financial architecture, medium-term fiscal consolidation in the US and other advanced economies, currency “wars,” IMF quota and governance reform, public debt management, regional financial arrangements, financial (and shadow banking) regulation, tax avoidance/evasion.

The Russian Goals

According to presentations in Washington by Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak and Sherpa Ksenia Yudaeva, “growth and jobs” are the headline issues for their Presidency.  However, the means to achieve these goals is through progress on “financing for investment” (especially in infrastructure public-private partnerships (PPPs).

The issue of “financing for investment” (FfI) has surged to the top of the G20 agenda.  The Sherpa stressed the ambitiousness of the work program of the study group, co-chaired by Germany and Indonesia.  The work program is contained in the annexes of this “umbrella paper” prepared by the World Bank in coordination with OECD, IMF, UNCTAD, UN-DESA, and FSB: http://www.g20.org/news/20130228/781245645.html.

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Sophia Murphy, guest blogger

With the U.S. government announcement last week that this year’s corn crop is expected to be much smaller due to an extended drought, agricultural commodity markets are yet again headed for high and unstable prices this summer. Is the world better prepared for the shortfall then it was in 2007? Certainly, the United States is not. To cite agricultural journalist Alan Guebert:

Indeed, according to CCC (Commodity Credit Corporation), there is not one teaspoon of sugar, one pound of peanuts, one slice of butter, one wheel of cheese, one bushel of wheat or even one chickpea in USDA’s pantry. CCC has nothing—nada, zip, goose egg—to release into the marketplace to slow or moderate what’s certain to be fast-climbing food prices in the coming months.

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Alejandro Chanona, guest blogger

The 1992 Rio Declaration identifies the “right to development” as the synthesis of existing human rights, such as the right to a proper life, to higher levels of health, education, housing, job and food. However, there is a big gap between states’ discourse in support of sustainable development and the well-being of the individual and the actions and commitments needed to achieve them.

The fundamental problem is that, since 1992, there was an attempt to implement an ideal model of development (sustainable development) without changing the dominant economic paradigm. Quite to the contrary: that paradigm became more deeply entrenched. The redefinition of global development since the 1987 Brundtland Report and the 1992 Earth Summit, which is the context for the Millennium Goals, coincided with the most speculative handling of the economy and its securitization, creating a contradiction that persists until today.

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Jennifer Clapp

Part of the Triple Crisis Spotlight Rio+20 and Spotlight G-20 series.

It has been encouraging to see the promotion of an environmentally sustainable approach to agriculture and food security endorsed by three recent high-profile summits: the Rio +20 Conference and the G20 Leaders’ Summit this month, and the G8 Summit last month. But they did not offer up anywhere near the kind of public financial support, or the regulatory framework, required to implement it.

In L’Aquila in 2009, the G8 governments, later supported by the G20, pledged some $22 billion for agriculture and food security initiatives in developing countries over the 2009-12 period. But the ongoing economic crisis has prompted rich country governments to significantly scale back what they are now willing to commit.

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Aldo Caliari, guest blogger

Part of the Triple Crisis Spotlight G-20 series.

At the G20 Summit Leaders may not have been able to agree on a lot of things. In fact, the European crisis was, like at the Cannes Summit last year, an urgent fire to put out. Its smoke helped cover the rest of the critical issues on which the world is still anxiously awaiting for this self-appointed committee to reshape the global financial and monetary system after the most severe financial crisis since the 1930s and to prove its worth.

But on other areas creeping movement is noticeable and worrisome. One of them is the approach to investment rules and the balance between attracting foreign investment and the need to preserve host countries’ policy space to regulate it appropriately so it serves development.

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Peter Chowla, guest blogger

Part of the Triple Crisis Spotlight G-20 series.

A joint statement by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) released in the middle of the G20 summit in Los Cabos spelled out their plans for contributing to a boost in the resources available to the International Monetary Fund. The IMF wanted more money to backstop countries from the risks facing the global economy, most notably in Europe. Did the BRICS just cave in to pressure and, through the IMF, bail out European banks who lent recklessly? Or is it part of a broader agenda of emerging markets to reform global economic institutions?

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Gerald Epstein

Part of the Triple Crisis Spotlight G-20 series.

Expectations were low to non-existent for the G-20 summit meeting that ended Tuesday in the sun-drenched resort of Los Cabos, Mexico. Policy analysts and business leaders have decried “policy paralysis” and the “loss of credibility” as most of the G-20 policy leaders rail against the negative impacts of austerity, even as they mostly continue to implement it.

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Christina Weller, guest blogger

Part of the Triple Crisis Spotlight G-20 series.

Los Cabos, Mexico – It certainly feels incongruous, working for an anti-poverty NGO and travelling to exclusive resorts such as Los Cabos in Mexico as part of your job. There are lots of reasons to think it’s not worth it. Should NGOs be lobbying at all? What does the G20 have to do with developing countries? What about the lack of access to decision makers (not to mention the lack of decisions at Summits these days)?

The answers to the questions are obviously not unconnected.

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