At the October meeting of G-20 finance ministers the only interesting item of note was a return to the discussion of a tax on international financial transactions, or “Tobin tax”. In 1971, the American economist and Nobel laureate James Tobin, proposed this initiative to reduce speculative activity international. This initiative garnered international support, even by the organization Association for the Taxation of financial Transactions and Aid to Citizens (ATTAC), which has the backing of the European Union. The measure was not supported by the United States or China.
Everything else in that meeting was mutual recrimination about passivity in the face of a deepening economic crisis and the replay of an old script: neoliberal structural adjustment, reduced spending and public consumption. These policies have left a number of European countries, such as Greece, on the verge of bankruptcy.
Latin America, represented by Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, should expect little from the G-20 in Cannes, the French city made famous by its film festival. Rather, from the region, a strong response to systemic crisis would deepen the political processes of integration, such as UNASUR and new structures in finance. These proposals recommend building a regional financial architecture with several pillars, including the Bank of the South, the use of reserve funds and a single system of Regional Compensation (Sucre).
As ever, Latin America is holding its ground in the G-20 and may even make suggestions for solutions from their experience. Be we will likely be stuck with worn scripts with little creativity as the rich countries try to tackle the economic crisis.