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G20: Road to nowhere

Robert Peston | 07:43 UK time, Thursday, 2 April 2009

The journalist on the bus next to me is snoring like it's going out of fashion.

It's 7am and I have been cleared by the first security screening and am now sitting on a bus waiting to be shuttled to the next electronic frisk and probe.

The bus isn't moving, apparently because the road to the conference is blocked by... well, we're not sure.

But the journalists from all over the world crammed on to the bus are becoming restive.

Welcome to the G20, the conference that Gordon Brown tells us will set the world back on the road to economic recovery.

For most of us stuck on the bus, the road to anywhere would be nice.

I suppose the authorities figure that the only deadline that matters is 1530 this afternoon, when the prime minister will announce to 2,500 hacks like me that the planet has been saved.

There is, of course, a faint risk that if it takes that long to get us there, the polite Dutch, Italian and Spanish journalists dressed in their best smart-casual that surround me will have morphed into rabid, smash-capitalism protesters.

We long for escape from this detention camp in a wasteland on north east London.

If they let us out, we promise to suspend common sense and try to believe that there really is drama in the last closing hours of talks between the leaders of the 20 economies identified as the world's most pivotal.

Thank goodness for le president, M Sarkozy. His tantrum yesterday, his near-threat that he would stomp out if the excesses of Anglo-American financial capitalism aren't definitively tamed, created the almost convincing impression that the stuff which really matters in today's communique hasn't been stitched up and choreographed in the preceding days by diligent officials.

As a minister said to me yesterday, if money had changed hands between Downing Street and the Elysees, M Sarkozy couldn't have done a better job for G Brown of casting him as the peacemaking global statesman.

However, for the avoidance of doubt, I am not trying to downplay the significance of today's global concordat on boosting the resources of the IMF to rescue ailing economies, on the principles of reforming the banking system, and on standing ready to stimulate national economies should that be necessary (this latter a damper squib than Mr Obama and Mr Brown would have liked, but they'll never admit it).

That said, and as you by now may have gathered, I am feeling a little bit grumpy to be stranded on a bus seemingly on the road to nowhere.

Update 08:37: After a wrong turn, by the government-hired bus driver, we're in.

But in what?

We're nowhere near where the leaders will be passionately debating the precise words to employ when declaring that - in the light of evidence that secretive, tax-avoiding financial firms may not all have been a force for good - that they don't like tax havens.

Where we are is Planet Media.

I've been a hack for more than 25 years and I've never seen anything like it.

Picture to yourself the biggest indoor stadium you've ever seen.

And then think of it filled with desk after desk after desk of newspaper reporters in front of laptops and phone points.

Then visualise a couple of hundred yards of cameras directed at TV reporters and presenters.

Finally summon up the image of hundreds of little booths filled with TV editing kit and makeshift radio studios.

This is a heaving, gabbling mass of scribblers and pundits.

Are you feeling queasy? I wouldn't be at all surprised.

It's the London summit. I think we're still on Earth, but actually I can't be sure.

So far my only contribution to the future of the world's economy has been to tip my tea over a tray of free croissants in the refreshment area. Sorry, fellow hacks.

However the torrent of steaming hot brew missed my TV shirt. Disaster averted.

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Update 09:26: I've just interviewed Lord Mandelson for the News Channel.

The message of the business secretary is that the prime minister is being "greedy" - greedy for massive additional resources for the IMF for bailing out beleaguered economies; greedy for hundreds of billions of commitments to finance drooping world trade; greedy for a substantial injection of funds into poorer developing nations.

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In this instance, Gordon Brown would say that greed is good. Though if he doesn't get everything he wants, presumably we'll be told that lean and mean have their attractions too.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    My favourite comment from all this G20 in London, was from a French commentator, who described holding the talks in London was like holdin a Gamblers Anonymous convention in Las Vegas.

  • Comment number 2.

    "I suppose the authorities figure that the only deadline that matters is 1530 this afternoon, when the Prime Minister will announce to 2,500 hacks like me that the planet has been saved,"

    Will he do that wearing his knickers on the outside, like in the comics ?? I hope Mrs. B had done her washing !!

  • Comment number 3.

    Its ok, house prices are on the up again, they can all go home now...

  • Comment number 4.

    Well Robert, they've finally got you where they wanted you: incarcerated for all you naughty revelations about the global economic crisis. Are you sure you'll be let out at the end of this fiasco? Keep your wits about you y friend Gordon has friends in low places.

  • Comment number 5.

    You might spend your time meditating on the economy with the truth since this is a blog on economy and truth had somehow gone AWOL !!

    Just to start you off -

    Oh what a web of lies we weave,
    when first we practice to deceive !!

    Perhaps out Glorious Leader might need some instructions in this field. You know, "No more boom or bust....", "We are best placed....", "I will save the world...", etc. !!

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    It's a positive step if the G20 can agree on a common direction , but since when have governments been job creators ? The best a government can do is create conditions that encourages private capital to be invested and thus create employment . Its appears G Brown is peddling a derivative of his own called "Social Capitalism" , this will turn out to be numerous blockades on how private capital can be invested .Pretending you can have a capitalist structure without any risk is naive,it is risk and reward that drives capitalism and thus job creation.

  • Comment number 8.

    We always knew that Anglo-Saxon financial capitalism
    Would dump us on the scrap heap in the garden of life
    They use and abuse you and then abandon you to die

  • Comment number 9.

    As a minister said to me yesterday, if money had changed hands between Downing Street and the Elysees, M Sarkozy couldn't have done a better job for G Brown of casting him as the peacemaking global statesman.

    Good spin without the rebuttal.

    Much better to think that Sarkozy and Merkel appear to be standing up to a bully's "clunking fists"

    Obama, the saviour, may be out of his depth.

  • Comment number 10.

    Robert,

    Why is Libor ( 3mth) still running 1.125 percentage points above official rate? What are the Lending Panel Banks saying about the shortfall of credit supply to demand ? Tomorrow, we'll need to wake up and smell the coffee. Can you post the answers. Cheers.

  • Comment number 11.

    Yes, I've no doubt Brown will stand up and say the world has been saved. But has it ? No is the short answer to that. Why, because we have the likes of Mr Brown trying to reinflate a bubble that has burst, conveniently avoiding the massive debt levels that have been built up over the "Nice Decade" and beyond. The world financial system is totaly out of balance, and from what I can see the US and UK are fiddling around the edges and dumping the "damage" on their respective tax payers. The fraud that has been committed has not been dealt with. The perps are still in place, and has anyone mentioned the trillions in derivatives floating around just offshore. But Heh!! I'm only a tax payer, what do I know...

  • Comment number 12.

    Lets hope it does not rain on GB's desperate attempt to become our next Prime Minister. At least it provides an opportunity for him to forget all the woes at home - unemployment, housing, climate change, poverty, sleeze, ministerial dishonesty!

    GB may be the host but in strategic terms it will be China's party!

  • Comment number 13.

    Do the members of the G20 know how much bad debt has been created by derivatives? If so why has no-one said how much there is in certain terms. Surely this is an important factor in solving the problem that is posed?

    Would anyone else have felt more comfortable with this G20 meeting being televised or am I just suspicious for no good reason? :p

    http://www.freenation.org.uk/?p=320

    We all know the position of the UK, SU, France & Germany to some degree, but what about the remaining 16 countries? What bearing do they actaly have on the final outcome of this solution (in particular China). Someone should sneak a camera in there and see and see what's really happening. What do people think the final solution will be. I suppose that there will be no provisions to 'tie the hands' of the central banks that in effect got us into this position! This whole thing is a bit of a farce because no one seems to be talking about root causes. So I guess in the next 10-20 years after weve 'recovered' from this distater we will find ourselves in the same position again. :(

  • Comment number 14.

    Robert -- understand your frustration -- don't do buses at the best of time ! Well perhaps the Hertz but at an airport :)
    Love Peter Mandellson's headline on the ticker this morning. "The weak pound has been positive for manufacturing exports" ! But doesn't he realise that the UK econpmy is/was dependent on the Financial sector -- UK doesn't export much anymore.
    Weak pound impact on us as mere mortals. Daughters accomodation at university overseas jumped by £60 between end February and end March as the pound crashed even further.
    Thanks Gordon !

  • Comment number 15.

    Robert

    Sorry you are not having a good morning so far.

    Your comments about sitting in the bus and being told absolutely nothing other than it will be ok might be how some of the rest of us feel the whole country is being run, loads of promises (spin) and nothing actually happening.

    I really hope that you are just as cynical this afternoon (or more so?)when Super Gordon issues his save the world communication.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hughesz said: "but since when have governments been job creators?"
    In fact the Government sector (national, regional, county, district, town, and qangos) seems to be the biggest one that is NOT facing massive layoffs and redundancies!
    While the rest of us fear for job security and income, the government sector (all levels) simply increases taxes and charges to pay for an ever-expanding payroll!

  • Comment number 17.

    So we are to believe that during today the leaders of the free world will agree on a global solution to all our financial problems. What a load of tosh. They couldnt agree on who buys lunch so this conference is shown up for the farce it is. All the real political work is done behind closed doors and so why the pretence that sitting these bozos in a hall all day, not to mention all the wining and dining at huge expense to the UK taxpayers is going to solve anything. Please all go home and dont forget to divi up the bill before you leave.
    Oh and please don't anyone think Gordon Brown has achieved anything worthy out of this cos he hasn't.

  • Comment number 18.

    The best moment for me was when Nick Robinson asked Obama what he thought of Brown blaming it all on America - Obama for the first time in his political career, was literally lost for words. Nice one Nick.

  • Comment number 19.

    Does anyone know if Crash and the gang have agreed to include house price inflation in the RPI/CPI so that if house prices start hurtling up again then this time the BoE can use interest rates to bring them down again?

  • Comment number 20.

    Tea soaked Croissants? Well done Robert-don't some countries dunk the pastry into drinks for breakfast? You just contributed to international accord! Very European of you!

    Let's see what today brings....perhaps the world is waiting for president Sarkozy to leave an empty chair in a huff!

    Exciting stuff! Can't wait!

  • Comment number 21.

    Have some mercy
    And I'm sorry I'm so sorry
    I've been working for you
    Doing work all I can
    Work all night didn't make me a man
    Have some mercy
    I'm doing all I can
    I'm taking the task on
    Everything I do seem to go wrong
    I feel like dying I feel like crying
    All the burdens
    I just can't go on

  • Comment number 22.

    Just stay sitting tight on the bus, Robert. These are perilous times and we need you to survive with a whole skin.

  • Comment number 23.

    We understand Bobby, but just remember -your job is to make the system and the government accountable.

    Regards

  • Comment number 24.

    Would be good to know how much borrowed money this posturing has cost us,
    The cost to the Americans must have set their recovery back a while too.
    Over 500 people just with Obama along with a small airforce and truck fleet, the whole thing is an absolute disgrace, it shows no regard for the prudent use of public money whatsoever.
    The waste by the BBC to have their hacks spew out more page fill is small beer in comparison but symptomatic of the easy money culture.

  • Comment number 25.

    #7 hughesz

    "it is risk and reward that drives capitalism and thus job creation".

    It is risk and reward that drives life, actually. There are more 'rewards' that just monetary profits and more 'risks' than monetary proverty.

    I think it was Mother Teresa who said something along the lines - in India they had such poverty of money but in the UK there is such poverty of love. That is, in India people were dying in the streets because there was no money, but in the UK many people were suffering in many ways because people just didn't care.

    In my view, much of the problem we are in has been caused by people only seeing the wealth of money - almost making money some sort of god - and not bothering much to see the richness and value of acting with appropriate social responsibility.

    For sure, it's hard to get social responsibility, or humanity, onto an Excel spreadsheet or into the annual accounts. Is that really a good enough reason for not factoring them into how you do business?

  • Comment number 26.

    #8. mind_read wrote:

    "We always knew that Anglo-Saxon financial capitalism
    Would dump us on the scrap heap in the garden of life
    They use and abuse you and then abandon you to die"

    Always? I don't recall such sentiment back in the good old days of rising house prices, rampant consumerism and cheap flights to holiday homes in Tuscany. And as soon as the good old days are back again (as they will be) it will, once again, be business as usual. memories are short and, in general, people are selfish.

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    Brown seen as a peacemaking global statesman?
    From my window I can see a huge flight of pigs obscuring the sun

  • Comment number 30.

    An arrival OF 20 leaders and their entorage taking one and a half hours for a 'meeting' that is to take four and a half hours provides confirmation that the communique has been formed and this is more to do with a photo opportunity for Gordon and Obama.

    The tell tell sign was the italaian PM walking in discussing or demanding a change in a line of the communique before GB could even shake his hand!

    Pure theatre and everyone that is taken in by it are mugs.

    Thank god for France and Germany. Lets hope they throw a spanner in the US & UK show

  • Comment number 31.

    Is it in any way possible for the G20 to live up to all the hype in the first place?

    They always say the right things at these international pow-wows. It`s one thing to say the words at the summit but a completely different matter to go home and carry it out. There has been lots of talk of "we cannot allow protectionism" for months. They said this when they all met in Washington last Nov. And what happened? Half of them came away and carried out measures which are protectionist.

    Politics is all about self preservation and these leaders want to protect their positions in their home countries for as long as possible. You can agree with the other leaders in London all you want but when the peasants back home start to turn against you a leader has to take action.

    Sarkozy has been making all kinds of noises over the past few days but what has he done! Sarkozy has directly taken jobs away from Eastern Europe by putting together a deal for the French car markers under the condition that the production be moved back to France.

    Will the G20 summit matter at all in the end? As long as the US - as the worlds largest economy - is tanking the rest of us are going to be dragged down as well. There are many domestic problems within the US economy that aren't going to be cured by the outcome of today.

    A collapsing commerical property market
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    A second wave of subprime to hit in 2010 - 2011
    http://tinyurl.com/dzn3l8

    The above are just two examples of troubles that the US still have to deal with. These could be the final straw for the big Wall St. banks that still have been fully sorted out.

  • Comment number 32.

    At what point do they link hands and sing "Auld Lang Syne"?

  • Comment number 33.

    It was said yesterday that the whole world wanted to be the first to host the new US president, but that honour has fallen to Gordon Brown and the United Kingdom. However, Barrack Obama visited Canada on February 19, 2009, thus making Stephen Harper and Canada the first country to host the US president, not Britan.

  • Comment number 34.

    Nice to see someone is working!
    Keep up the good work Robert.

  • Comment number 35.

    "created the almost convincing impression that the stuff which really matters in today's communique hasn't been stitched up and choreographed in the preceding days by diligent officials."

    Yes, the communique has been stitched up. Like politicians and their lobbyists have always stitched us up.

    No, the communique does not matter. Communique is but words, words wind, wind which will blow every diretion then disappear afterward.

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    Welcome to the the Brave New World of the politicised media. Mushrooms, all journos...just mushrooms. When is a journalist amongst you going to grow some balls and tell it as it is? I guess those that tell the truth fear being branded a terrorist. It's all about fear these days.

    Come on Robert, this is your chance to get in the history books - the truth will always out! (that's what they say, but it doesn't)

  • Comment number 38.

    Wile I certainly don't condone the vandalism of RBS yesterday, for the first time in such a situation I understand it... That is a worrying turn of events!

    Normally these type of protest are so far removed from "normal" life, that we disregard the perpetrators as "loonies" - In this case, I feel as robbed by the weasel bankers and as aggrieved that the government seems incapable or unwilling to take them to task (I know Obama's "super tax" when applied to the super rich is just the equivalent of the tax we everyday folk pay, but still, at least he did something!).

    Gordon Brown probably hasn't even noticed the disruption on the streets, while he's busy "saving the world", but he needs to be aware his ordinary electorate are starting to see things a whole lot differently - I don't just mean greedy MP sleaze either, but that certainly hasn't helped! What exactly do these people spend their salaries on, if everything goes on expenses? When I travel to work I spend some of my salary - Isn't that how it works?

    Anyway, off topic - I don't condone the destruction of property during G20, but...

  • Comment number 39.

    When there is no news at a gigantic media event, like the G20, journos revert to writing about their immediate environment rather than the news that does not exist. Like the blogger they feel compelled to write and when there is nothing to write about write about, nothing!

    Let us get back to business and economics please!

    Can anyone explain to me how by not making the banks bankrupt the overpriced assets they hold on their books can be returned to productive use and their proper, much lower, price? To do business we need properly priced assets - that includes houses - by taking actions that deliberately keep these from the inevitable re-pricing the recovery is being (indefinitely?) delayed.

    Further, with insanely low interest rates seemingly going on without end can anyone explain why we should make long term business and investment decisions based on these absurdly low interest rates going on forever?

    Robert, let's get back to the fundamentals, please, and I do not really want to know about your ability, or lack of it, when it comes to croissant juggling!

  • Comment number 40.

    We/They/Plonkers'r'Us appear just to have done a credit default swap to collateralise further debt with their substitution and creative accounting inventions and populist outings of quantitative easing and fiscal stimuli replacing structured investment vehicles in sub prime derivatives, but still no better than still dishonorable Smoke and Mirrors Dodgy Dealings Lingo to All who listen.

    And I wonder if we'll get to hear another wooden and perfunctory Brezhnev-era apparatchik party line which tells us nothing, thus confirming both an Intellectual and Leadership Bankruptcy, with yet another rendering of that old "I haven't a Clue" stalwart ....... We will do whatever it takes and are just getting on with the job ..... with no specific actions or selected champions shared to allow for forensic examination and/or extrapolation and/or ridicule of a System Melting Down even further into Dire Straits Chaos and Feather Nest Entrenchment/Siege Mentality/Heavy Meta Breakdown.

    One Trusts in Global Operating Devices that they have Advisors enough to warn of their Fate should that be the global plan for economic recovery which Mr Brown spoke of, with leaders being “within a few hours” of agreeing to ..... http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/G20/article6018680.ece

    That would be a Road to Nowhere and a Cliff Fall ...... and Goodbye Gordon, thanks for Nothing and all the Rotten Phish ... and Barack Obama would be outed as a Phoney too ...... in a remarkable turn around of missed fortune events, a poodle to UK Madness, although of course IT and Media would spin it as just being Psychological Flawed, rather than Plain Barking ..... for a better class of visually impaired, short selling Global Village Idiot.

  • Comment number 41.

    We all know that the financial world has been centered and dominated by New York and London for many many years. Since 1997 Gordon Brown has been the man in a position to do something but he has happily turned his back to regulation and allowed the boys in the city to have free reign and generate huge profits from thin air.

    Now that day has come that this has blown up in Crash`s face. He will stand before the world later this afternoon at the G20 and present himself as some kind of saintly figure that is devoted to putting the world right again. If he had to do his job in the first place (along with other countries) all of these leaders wouldn't need to be gathering at the Excel today in the first place.

    Gordon Brown has been caught out with the smoking gun in his hand and he is trying to convince everyone that he didn't pull the trigger. Sorry but it`s a bit late for that Crash. The British people are not stupid and we know who has let this country down! People from all walks of life and all age brackets are angry and you can't blame them one little bit.

    http://creditcrunchedoutinuk.blogspot.com

  • Comment number 42.

    Brown trying to keep this bubble going is akin to trying to repair a hot air balloon while in flight. Common sense says that the safest thing to do would be to land it and repair it on the ground.

  • Comment number 43.

    "...the conference that Gordon Brown tells us will set the world back on the road to economic recovery".

    I know I'm not supposed to ask this question, but ..

    What if it doesn't? What then?

    What if it makes no difference and people just go on getting poorer, with increased unemployment as more businesses go to the wall because they can't get credit, more wage cuts, more reduced factory hours, more reduced retail figures, etc., etc.

    Leaving aside the economic mess for a moment - who is going to do what about the social consequences?

  • Comment number 44.

    Are you sure that it is not registration for the London Marathon that you have got mixed up in at ExCel?

  • Comment number 45.

    #16. Richie wrote:

    "While the rest of us fear for job security and income, the government sector (all levels) simply increases taxes and charges to pay for an ever-expanding payroll!"

    But isn't that inevitable and even, by the very definition of public sector, obvious?

    The public sector is concerned with the functions that allow the country to run - tax, pensions and benefits, local government, education - and this is obviously not going to go away in a period of low economic activity.

    The private sector, however, which depends entirely upon economic activity to generate profit and which pays handsome rewards when times are good, is obviously going to be the worst-affected in a downturn.

    The job security and guaranteed pension enjoyed by public sector workers are the other side of the coin that has seen them suffer low pay and below-average pay awards for many years.

  • Comment number 46.

    At the 2007 APEC summit in Sydney protesters set up a three limousine convoy covered in official looking Canadian government markings and just drove through all the security. You chaps in the media publicised it for them to prove how clever the protesters are and how stupid the governments are.

    Obviously the people in London are not going to be caught by that sort of trick.

    We all pay a big price for the anti mob. Tax to pay for their benefits and all the policing of their illegal protests. Excessive energy bills as we move to inefficient energy sources. Unemployment as they destroy the economy.

    Waiting a few minutes in a bus is a small price.

  • Comment number 47.

    There is a task that must be done
    Lets have foundation for our generation
    Lets get moving moving on
    Because as we all grow we all should know
    That here is where we belong
    In the garden of life
    We cannot give up we got to live up
    We must forever hold our ground
    We must not backdown
    In the garden of life
    I will always always be around

  • Comment number 48.

    #9 Obama, the saviour, may be out of his depth.

    I wouldn't bank on Obama having all the answers, see his choice of people to 'sort' out GM.

    http://www.leanblog.org/2009/03/three-bankers-and-campaign-aide-walk.html

  • Comment number 49.

    There is a hint of euphoria about todays blog, perhaps only right given the circus that's in town but, what about after the released statement this afternoon. You know, the one where everyone has agreed to do 'whatever they can' to provide a fiscal stimulus, to make tax havens 'more transparent' and to make bankers 'morally accountable'. What happens over the next few months as the hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of unknowable liabilities burried in the banks start to surface, when businesses still close and make their staff redundant, and homes are still repossesed. Maybe we can all go live in the Excell centre and munch on stale croissants and drink tea.

  • Comment number 50.

    Morning all!

    Very droll Robert :-)

    "But the journalists from all over the world crammed on to the bus are becoming restive...." I expect the police have tazers on hand.

  • Comment number 51.

    For all my adult life, a lot of it spent in the Police service, I have considered protestors and demonstrators as "them".
    Having had my impending retirement ruined, watched greedy politicians scrabbling around for money I have paid in taxes, seen my savings income dwindle and my kids facing insecurity, I now feel as if I am one of "them"
    People who know me would be amazed to hear me say it.....! Wake up Mr Brown - I am not alone.

  • Comment number 52.

    You made it then!

  • Comment number 53.

    #26 rbstemp

    People are selfish and selfless, and rational and irrational, and good and evil, all at the same time.

    But, I think this recession seems to have a different feel about it.

    Perhaps, people have had their eyes opened to the fallacy of the Anglo-American, 'winner takes all', consumerism fantasy. Perhaps people now realise that such an economic system can only end in 'tears before bed-time' for someone or other, sooner or later and that eventually 'what comes around goes around' and the short-term winners can end up as losers too.

    For sure, it's natural that during times of plenty, people will take more. But we now could be heading for prolonged famine both economically and ecologically. Even if it were to turn out to be no more than a blip, I feel people may turn their backs on the financial myths of the last few years.

  • Comment number 54.

    Norwich Union is about to follow Swiss RE in announcing job losses.
    Watch the news todau, and this coming from Australia !

  • Comment number 55.

    26. At 09:00am on 02 Apr 2009, rbs_temp wrote:
    "And as soon as the good old days are back again (as they will be) it will, once again, be business as usual. memories are short and, in general, people are selfish..."
    +
    I was the key resource in "RBS Business As Usual" Team, the canteen was where we used to talk bollo

  • Comment number 56.

    My overwhelming feeling about this whole G20 is that it is a lot of show as a confidence building exercise.
    The real work has already been done by the 'back room ' staff and this feels like leaders 'being seen to do something'
    Frankly this may sound good and make leaders feel better - but to the poor sod thats lost their job, home etc it'll sound like a self congratulatory bit of back slapping
    I think a little more humility might help

  • Comment number 57.

    I'm glad Sarkozy's antics may have backfired on him and helped portray Gordon Brown as the peasemaker. These are difficult times and world leaders like Sarkozy should not be explointing meetings to indulge in posturing.

    Keep up the good work Robert but don't compalain about being stuck on buses - it goes with the territory of being at the centre of momentous world events.

  • Comment number 58.

    Is "tipping my tea over a tray of free croissants" a metaphor for Britain pouring cold water on any French plans for saving the world?

  • Comment number 59.

    Be happy you are on a bus... the rest of us seem to be on the 'Titanic'.... with a captain Brown ordering full steam ahead which is sinking the ship faster... same old story... not enough lifeboats and again the first class passengers will be the only ones in those boats.

  • Comment number 60.

    good morning fellow Mullerites

    don't know about the rest of you but I'm glad to see that Peston is grumpy and seems to be adopting a slightly more critical line about these summits and the powers of our Glorious Leader

    it's about time! even if it is because Stephanie Flanders has just passed Peston's bus in a limo cruising down the fast lane

    as many others have said, today will see the Sherpas draft and craft a communique that everyone can sign; but aside from Sarkozy and Merkel, who certainly want to go down a different path from Obama/Brown, the BRICs are clearly not happy and also want something else

    the stock markets love it as it allows the huge amounts of 'money' sitting on the sidelines to re-enter the market and make a quick buck or two during what I still strongly suspect to be a bear rally or a suckers rally, depending which term you prefer

    but then what? there will be further reality checks in May/June and so on; look at the OECD report and other reports and tell me what the G20 are actually going to do about it?

    they are going to continue with NATIONAL and largely UNCO-ORDINATED stimulus packages of their own

    Obama has also noted that the USA will not be returning to being a huge consumer of imports

    And there will be protectionism on the sly; already is; and there never has been any such thing as truly 'Free Trade' BTW but a lot of pushing products into bigger markets

    At this point I must admit to having mixed feelings, because as someone who is very concerned about the increasing damage to our environment, I would welcome more local production and a lower level of consumption of mass-produced items (meaning a permanent reduction in global trade) but realise that movement would in fact be a kind of twin of protectionism; and might be a good thing except for the fact that it might increase the chances of war

    For those of you who are fans of Mad Men it is interesting to survey all the stuff (from photocopiers to clothing to the furniture) and try to identify a single item that might have been made outside the USA; then watch a recent equivalent like 30Rock and see if you can identify something in the set that isn't; not sustainable in any way

  • Comment number 61.

    OF NO PIRATICAL USE??

    one small positive thing coming out of Brown's bizarre attempt to take credit for 'saving the world' has been the emphasis on meeting as a G20 instead of a G7/G8

    now that the BRICs and others have been allowed to sit at the high table they are not going to accept going back to the side table; the G7/G8 had become meaningless; I mean who could honestly say that countries such as Italy and Canada should really have full seats at a G7 conference; they are just not important enough economically (I say that as a Canadian who also has spent a lot of time in Italy)

    of course Brown is unlikely to have wanted to potentially dilute Britain's influence from a seventh to a 20th but he has started that process

    you will have noticed that yesterday Obama turned up at No 10, spoke to Brown, and then proceeded to use the gaff for a series of meetings with Russia, China etc; the lovely bit of film of Obama leading Brown out of the room with his hand on his shoulder should have been accompanied by the audio - 'thanks so much Gordon; could you bring us a cafetierre of coffee and 2 teas, one with milk, no sugar'

    yours Piratically

  • Comment number 62.

    Robert, while you may find "stuck on the bus" to be the highlight of your day on Planet Media, we mortals on Planet Earth are a tad more exercised in surviving the fall out from unregulated Bank greed and the biggest ever global losing bet on a never-ending "boom".

    Please dont make the mistake that your daily travails matter more than than your real task - grilling Brown, Obama et al on why they did not regulate the Banks adequately or at all, why Government spending continues to balloon, (the Labour Government has WASTED £1.3 TRILLION over the last 10 years in bureaucracy alone !!) and more importantly, where have all the trillions gone - somebody must have 'em !!!

    Make a start - cancel all knighhoods and other gongs that these top bankers have earned "for services to the financial sector" and put them all on the dwindling state pension because of the market losses that they have caused through Bank folly.

  • Comment number 63.

    Where is the meat Robert?

    These are the questions that need answering, not just how many interviews you can get.

  • Comment number 64.

    Robert I think you should lighten up a bit, let's see some positive reporting. I would guess that most of the people out there don't know what the G20 is; the media should help to explain more about the countries represented rather than be given constant negative reports. Cheer up! It might all be over by Christmas: try to report some good news for a change.

  • Comment number 65.

    With the cost of the G20 summit and the risks that are there to members of the public why an earth is the meeting beig held in such a public place?
    There are many air force bases that could have held the summit, security costs would have been reduced as all bases are secure and patrolled, there is accomodation there that would have been sufficient and local people (like myself) wouldn't have been disrupted.
    This would have shown financial prudence on the part of Gordon Brown and shown world leaders that we are serious about cutting costs, the millions saved could have gone to better things and people that truly need the money.
    Maybe in future these summits could be held at forces bases and save the costs and disruptions that have happened around this summit

  • Comment number 66.

    I do hope your title is an "homage" to the 1980's Talking Heads song Road to Nowhere with its very apt couple of lines

    We don't know where we're going
    And we don't know where we've been.

    Just about sums up the British economy at the moment.

  • Comment number 67.

    Surely all the G20 countries have the technology for video conferencing which save money and is more environmentally friendly and produce the same words. Ditto for Davos et.

  • Comment number 68.

    #53. Sutara wrote:

    "People are selfish and selfless, and rational and irrational, and good and evil, all at the same time.

    But, I think this recession seems to have a different feel about it..."


    Perhaps I should have said "materialistic" rather than "selfish"; that is certainly closer to what I believe. People are angry today because they are losing their jobs and their homes and are seeing the people who they believe to be the villains continue unpunished (and, in some cases, even rewarded) for their actions. But as soon as the economy begins to pick up again they will forget and will want unrestricted access to cheap money so that they may play the property market and feel rich again.

    Yes, this recession does have a different feel to it. But they all have a different feel, and this one is intense only because we are right in the middle of it right now. I would suggest that the anger, despair and very real hardship that was experienced in the Thatcher recession of the 1980s was just as bad as that of today.

  • Comment number 69.

    Very witty blog today,Robert.
    And good news that house prices are going up again.
    Upwards and onwards as predicted!
    And the pound is starting to recover.
    And at 3.7% our economy is actually looking like it is declining a heck of a lot less than our Eurofriends.
    Oh what a beautiful morning!

  • Comment number 70.

    Robert, regards to your dad who taught me at LSE 1961-64.

    hughesz (#7) “It's a positive step if the G20 can agree on a common direction.” But only if that direction involves cost-effective measures which actually improve the short-to-medium term performance without leaving massive costs (higher tax and interest rates) in the longer term. I’ve seen no sign of that, plenty of splash-the-cash and ill-directed subsidies in the US, UK and Australia, little attempt to direct the massive spending so as to enhance productivity. A vast expansion of non-wealth-generating government when it is already too big.

  • Comment number 71.

    Personally I think that whole G20 thing is a vast con job by a government desperate to be seen to be doing something, anything to get the system going again.
    It will of course be presented as a wonderful deal for Britain, personally masterminded by Gordon Brown and of course all of our worries will soon be over. Look, even the stock market is shooting up this morning, a clear indication of Gordon's policies at work.
    With all this good news about, we should all increase our mortgages and buy new cars before going out and buying new wide screen tvs.
    What do you mean you don't understand? It's our patriotic duty...

  • Comment number 72.

    In a couple of weeks British Pest Control Association have their Expo at the Excel center. Shame they couldn't have turned up a few weeks earlier to sort out our vermin problem.

    Can't the labour party see what damage GB's smug attitude is doing to their reputation? It's cringe worthy.

  • Comment number 73.

    Reported here today,
    "Senior EU officials have told the BBC's Joe Lynam that there is concern that there will not be as much emphasis on bankers' pay and bonuses as they had hoped."

    What a joke, if they are thinking getting a grip on bankers pay and perks is a serious plan they are more deluded that even the most sceptical might have thought.
    The bankers (with a shed load of justification) will just point to the likes of one J. Ross etc and ask "What is a fair price for my job then?"

  • Comment number 74.

    #65 toughvirtuallife

    Because basically it is a 'circus'. Let's be real, there is no true need for the meeting.

    1) The business will really be done by the back room boys, not the politicians.

    2) Even the politicians could have met virtually, rather than physically.

    3) The 'outcomes' of the summit are really about ensuring political peace at (various) 'home' countries, not resolving global economic problems. "But see, I DID do something about it, I went to G20 and demanded / agreed to this and that ..."

    4) Those outcomes may, or may not, actually be implemented at national level depending on local economic and political expedience.

    5) It may, or may not, prevent a spiral of increased 'protectionism' and nationalism, increased demonisation of other nations or ethnic groups - "it's all the fault of those Chinese / Jews / Scottish / Belgians / Surrey-dwellers", followed by increased 'interventions' to protect national or regional (perceived) interests and, perhaps, even war breaking out between nations protecting their own slices of global wealth and natural resources.

    6) Whatever goes on at G20 does not preclude even key players negotiating outside of the G20 meeting with bankers, particular nations, etc., etc. For example, look at the story about China and Argentina coming to a currency deal. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7973541.stm

  • Comment number 75.

    jon112uk - your comment is breathtaking in its arrogance by assuming all those protesters were on benefits etc.. It was a very mixed crowd - there were workers there, pensioners etc. On saturdays protest there were families, people with children the retired etc. I think voices like yours are sounding increasingly isolated and mad.

    My in-laws are pretty traditional right wing types and even they can see that our capitalist utopia is crumbling away before our eyes. This is not going to be sorted and biz as usual within a year. How can it be? There are huge imbalances in world trade - and if the deficit countries have no more room to maneuver - no more debt to inflate they cannot continue the buying - so the surplus countries economies cannot grow anymore either.
    Also no one still knows the full extent of all these CDS liabilities and wont do for quite some time.
    I have many friends in financial services and used to work in it myself. Up until six months ago I would say they were pretty bouyant - not anymore. Most of them think things are very, very bad. One reason is the state of the insurance companies - wait till that starts really hitting the fan. And if you think banks are too important to fail - well think about the catastrophe if a big insurance company went under. But there is no more money to bail em out.
    Re the poster moaning about public sector jobs - what do you want? Do you want the public sector to start shedding staff as fast as the private sector? What would that acheive except an even quicker snowball effect as the private sector suddenly has even LESS consumers to keep it going?

    Re TINKSTHECAT your post was very interesting and I think does reflect the national mood. No one that i know went on either march but most people I know are increasingly angry and afraid. If this IS a blip then all well and good - and I do hope it is -but if as I believe this crisis is too deep and too systemic to be over within the next 18 months or so then we are in for very troubled times. 100,000 people a month plus now losing their jobs in the UK - and people from all sectors - all walks of life - no concentrated rage here that can be linked to certain areas as for example in the miners strike. In the US 750,000 losing their jobs a month,. How long do people think that can go on for before things turn nasty?
    My advice - and I am not joking - I have already done some of it. If you have some savings (I dont) get some of it into gold. If you have no savings because you are young with a mortgage like me - go out and buy some tinned and packet foods. stock up the freezer, buy some candles and get in some water. It does pay to be prepared if there was some sort of sudden massive inflation hike or scarcity of food due to breakdowns in trade.

  • Comment number 76.

    My real worry, at the end of all of this is, our great political minds will simply stand before the world and, in a nutshell tell us, "we have created a new world economic order, in which there will be winners and losers."

    If this is the case it will sound suspiciously like, "we're sticking with Capitalism, only it's shouldn't be quite as rampant as before?"

    Oh dear! (What I actually wanted to post probably wouldn't pass moderation.)

  • Comment number 77.

    51. At 09:53am on 02 Apr 2009, tinksthecat wrote:
    For all my adult life, a lot of it spent in the Police service, I have considered protestors and demonstrators as "them".
    Having had my impending retirement ruined, watched greedy politicians scrabbling around for money I have paid in taxes, seen my savings income dwindle and my kids facing insecurity, I now feel as if I am one of "them"

    Speaking as an occasional one of "them" for the last 40 years or so, I congratuate you Sir. The crowd in history is rarely wrong and what were yesterday's outrageous demands (end of Slavery and Capital Punishment, killing whaes, right to Universal suffrage and trades unions, No war in Vietnam/Iraq/Afghanistan, etc) tend to end up as today's or tomorrow's orthodoxies.

    Roll on the end of selfish/crony/corporate capitalism and its replacement by something altogether more altruistic and humane as discussed by Wharfgirl and others on the last blog.

    Though as an armchair anarcho-syndicalist I would say that, wouldn't I?

  • Comment number 78.

    "This is a heaving, gabbling mass of scribblers and pundits."


    Q. What do you call 100 scribblers and pundits at the bottom of the sea?
    A. A very good start.



  • Comment number 79.

    Please please please Robert, will you be the one to stand up at this ridiculous circus and tell everybody that the emperor has no clothes on. This whole G20 conference is 'fiddling whilst Rome-and the rest of the world burns'. As a contributor remarked earlier, why isn't being held in some out of the way airfield, with no pomp and circumstance-and croissants for journalists? Is it because it is making us feel as if something, anything, is being done to sort of this mess. Until the fundamental capitalist system is dismantled and greed is no longer used as a base for it's foundations, this world will destroy itself. And, it won't matter whether you live in the slums or in your second home in Tuscany.

  • Comment number 80.

    #68 rbs_temp

    "But as soon as the economy begins to pick up again..."

    Surely you mean "But if..."

    Are there any guarantees it MUST pick up again? Couldn't it just carry on going the way it is - downwards?

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    #7 "since when have governments been job creators "

    Since civil service existed !!

  • Comment number 84.

    I agree with (41) and many others in here. Brown is to blame in the Uk Brown has to go - to quote Blackadder we will not move "as far as an asthmatic ant with a heavy load of shopping" unless we vote out this shower. The expenses fiasco is just the last drop in the bucket - they are there for themselves and themselves alone. Brown is not interested in sorting this out but only avoiding blame and staying in power. He is a total disgrace to one of the proudest offices in history - I suspect he has no idea of who William Pitt was when Mr Hague quotes him. I know people will say a General Election now will be a distraction and slow down the recovery - no - this is essential to start the recovery.

  • Comment number 85.

    #12 "GB may be the host but in strategic terms it will be China's party!"

    Vat effer you do, don't mention Peking Duck !!

  • Comment number 86.

    #13 "Someone should sneak a camera in there and see and see what's really happening."

    You really don't want to know !! It will be very ugly !! All these world leaders sitting around and gorging themselves whilst their sherpas battle the issues out in another place !! Why, their citizens might question their right to greatly enjoying themselves while those at home suffer the recession !!

  • Comment number 87.

    I agree with (41) and no doubt many others in this list. Brown is to blame in the Uk on all fronts if it be lack of regulation or spending money we haven't got. He has to go and go now. People may say a general election now would be a distraction and slow down the recovery - no - it is essential to start the recovery. This shower of a govt is only interested in avoiding blame and staying in power - until we are honest about the mess we are in and start putting things right - eg public sector final salary pensions which I am afraid have to go - we will get nowhere. Mr Brown is a disgrace to the office he holds; I suspect he doesn't even know who William Pitt was when Mr Hague quotes him.

  • Comment number 88.

    #10 shireblogger #11 saxonpirate. Dead right

    #37 grave_sniffer The last thing they want is the truth.

    #40 amanfromMars Amen to that



  • Comment number 89.

    #77 ThorntonHeathen

    "what were yesterday's outrageous demands ... tend to end up as today's or tomorrow's orthodoxies"

    Absolutely right!

    I would add -

    What were yesterday's norms and common practices tend to end up as tomorrow's embarrassments and shames.

  • Comment number 90.

    #17 "so why the pretence that sitting these bozos in a hall all day, not to mention all the wining and dining at huge expense to the UK taxpayers is going to solve anything."

    Surely that better than watching semi-naked Z-list celebrities running about the jungle !!

  • Comment number 91.

    Not Planet Media, Robert dear, it's Cloud Cuckoo Land.

    All this talk about fiscal stimuli, quantitative easing, credit relaxation and banking regulation is the Agenda of lies and absolute incompetence. The credit crunch and recession/depression are set in ice until the true extent of the derivatives are known. If, as the Bank for International Settlements says, they are of the order of $500tr, then every single fiscal action taken by every single government in the world to date is completely and utterly meaningless. There is only one item that should have been on the agenda, and that is the outlawing, retrospectively, of every single derivative in existence. That would give us at least a sporting chance. Everything else is a chimera.

  • Comment number 92.

    Well done Gordon, whatever you might say about the PM at least he has managed to get 19 other Heads of states round the table in the East End of London.
    Can't waite for 15.30 to see the content of the agreed statement by the G20 world leader. "I believe in a place called HOPE"
    Keep up the good work Robert

  • Comment number 93.

    #25 "For sure, it's hard to get social responsibility, or humanity, onto an Excel spreadsheet or into the annual accounts. Is that really a good enough reason for not factoring them into how you do business?"

    Well, if you assign enough counters to measure them by, you can factor them into an Excel spreadsheet. After all, many major (and not so major) companies are trying very hard to factor in "customer satisfaction" and that is almost as nebulous as social responsibility !!

  • Comment number 94.

    Just been listening to 'Mandy' on the Jeremy Vine show, radio 2. Jeremy asked questions we all want answering but Mandy said GB has done a good job so far!!!!!!!!!

    Is it just me or do they all go to the same school where they teach them to sound totally pompus and condescending, and to treat the electorate like mushrooms.

    Come the revolution...............

  • Comment number 95.

    #49 "Maybe we can all go live in the Excell centre and munch on stale croissants and drink tea."

    Excellent idea since, by then, the croissants would have produced penicillin, which is an excellent anti-biotic !!

  • Comment number 96.

    #60 Mr Pirate - "At this point I must admit to having mixed feelings, because as someone who is very concerned about the increasing damage to our environment, I would welcome more local production and a lower level of consumption of mass-produced items (meaning a permanent reduction in global trade) but realise that movement would in fact be a kind of twin of protectionism; and might be a good thing except for the fact that it might increase the chances of war"

    Surely you jest, sir !! Reduced international trade will mean reduced chances of you ever pirating a lucrative ship again !! Then again, it also reduces your chances of being blown out of the water by the increasingly aggressive navies who are sending ships into the area to conduct live-fire exercises using pirates as targets !!

  • Comment number 97.

    Addendum to #60 "it's about time! even if it is because Stephanie Flanders has just passed Peston's bus in a limo cruising down the fast lane"

    "Easy come, easy go" as the prostitute said to the punter !!

  • Comment number 98.

    Robert,

    It's a waste of time you being there - anything agreed today will be broken within weeks. We will see a market bounce over the next week or so as the feeling will be 'excellent, they're going to sort it out' - but then when reality sinks in and the western countries seek safety in protectionism it will be back to the bears and downward markets.
    It's literally history repeating itself.

    Don't be fooled by the 'bounce in house prices' reported by Nationwide this morning. These numbers are based on lending after the survey stage and many never actually make it to completion - especially as surveyors are more inclined to dispute the valuation placed on the property by the vendor. They are also seasonally adjusted so that in recession traditionally quiet periods (winter) often get adjusted upwards disproportionately due to the low volumes.

    Still - if desperate people want to take this as a sign of an upturn then they will.

    The ONLY relevant house price survey is the RICS one - as it's based on completed sales.

  • Comment number 99.

    Thanks for the video Robert. Brilliant reportage. You never leave a stone unturned to bring us the insider's view from the depths.

  • Comment number 100.

    #64 "Cheer up! It might all be over by Christmas: try to report some good news for a change."

    Exactly, by Christmas, they may be using politicians to decorate the lamp posts !! One per post; two on the larger ones !!

 

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