The G-20 gathers to look for a cure

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Kai Ryssdal: Confirmation that the global economy is still up a creek is best reflected today in a what you might call the limousine indicator. The streets of Washington DC are crowded with motorcades. No, Nothing to do with the presidential transition. Twenty heads of state have come to the nation's capital for a rare face-to-face meeting.

From Washington, Marketplace's John Dimsdale has more on plans to revamp the world's financial architecture.


John Dimsdale: First, the group will coordinate immediate help for banks and poor countries that have lost access to capital. Interest rate cuts, capital injections, even an International Monetary Fund rescue plan are all on the table. This is no time to wait for President-elect Barack Obama to take office, says Fred Bergsten at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Fred Bergsten: It would not be desirable to wait even another two months to get going on some of the additional steps that need to be implemented now to strengthen the world economy.

The group's second priority is to start reforming global financial rules established more than half a century ago at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. But in the midst of a crisis and with 20 countries in the room, Steven Schrage at the Center for Strategic and International Studies says, they shouldn't reach too far.

Steven Schrage: The preparation has not been laid. This is not Bretton Woods where it's years after the initial crisis or years and months in the planning. Setting too high a goal I think could cause problems.

Reformers are clamoring for oversight of the largely unregulated trade in derivatives, which include the now-toxic mortgage-backed securities. David Chavern at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce favors an international clearing house to keep tabs on the complex financial instruments.

David Chavern There's tremendous capital flowing to China and India and Indonesia and Brazil, and they have to be brought into the system one way or the other.

The summiteers know their work won't end this weekend. There's already talk of a follow-up meeting next spring.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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