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Daily View: What should be on the G20 summit's agenda?

Clare Spencer | 10:37 UK time, Thursday, 3 November 2011

Commentators say what they think should be on the agenda at the G20 summit in Cannes.

In The Guardian Jonathan Portes
, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and former chief economist at the Cabinet Office, thinks David Cameron could get something out of the G20 summit provided he ditches his austerity plans:

"Internationally we should not be content to be bystanders. The government cannot insulate us from the impact of developments in the eurozone; and equally it can't tell eurozone governments what to do. But we do have considerable influence in the G20. Expectations for the Cannes summit are very low. But if we swung our weight behind those - such as Christine Lagarde, the IMF's new managing director, and the Obama administration - who are saying that the short-term priority is not austerity but rather growth and jobs, we could shift the terms of the debate for the better."

Former prime minister and current Labour MP Gordon Brown says in the International Herald Tribune the summit should be an opportunity to reignite the idea of a growth pact between countries:

"If China increases its consumer spending and Asia opens it markets, and if America invests in infrastructure, then as the IMF has suggested, there could be 5 percent more growth, worth 25 to 50 million more jobs and up to 100 million people taken out of poverty.
"Unfortunately the growth pact envisaged in 2009 has descended into a dispute over currencies, with the United States Senate now calling China a currency manipulator. A return to the 2009 idea would take us beyond bland statements of what each country is doing on its own to a genuine attempt to coordinate measures for shared growth and rising employment."

In The Financial Times Lawrence Summers, former US treasury secretary, warns policy makers not to make dubious assertions as they end up undermining confidence:

"Like the 13th chime of a clock, policymakers who deny the obvious or claim to know the unknowable call into question all that they say. Examples include regulators' assertions in 2008 that large banks had enough capital, claims that the US was enjoying a summer of recovery, and recent claims that Greece is not in default. Why should any investor rely on any default insurance from European authorities who heatedly deny that Greece is in default? The sooner it is recognised that the ideas advanced so far for leveraging the eurozone's bail-out fund are incoherent, the sooner the crisis may be resolved."

The Independent's Ben Chu renames the summit the "Cannes debt festival" but joking aside he says the negotiations are make or break for the global economy. He explains that the Greek announcement that they will hold a referendum about the debt bailout has "exploded a grenade into the place":

"The G20 already had a crowded agenda before this fresh crisis broke out. There are due to be talks in Cannes on subjects ranging from agriculture, to trade, to climate change, to job creation and corruption... Those set-piece discussions will go ahead. But the flames of the eurozone crisis, raging right outside the conference room door, will make it difficult for most of the leaders present to concentrate on anything else."

Despite the distractions of the eurozone crisis, Simon Chouffot predicts in the New Statesman that French president Nicolas Sarkozy will try his hardest to convince nations of a new tax:

"He has long advocated a financial transaction tax as a means of raising money for development and climate change. At his behest, Bill Gates will report on the issue to G20 leaders. He is expected to give his backing to the tax, which could raise $50bn a year.
"France has been working to secure a 'coalition of the willing' - a group of supportive countries such as France, Germany, South Africa and others -- that circumvents opposing countries such as the UK and US. The tax has long been popular in France, and it would be a lasting legacy of France's G20 presidency. Sarkozy has been banking on this, and not crisis management closer to home, to be the history that is written in Cannes."

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