Financial world's bigwigs come up short

G-7 finance ministers pose outside the U.S. Treasury in Washington, D.C. They are, from left, James Flaherty of Canada, Christine Lagarde of France, Peer Steinbruck of Germany, Henry Paulson of the United States, Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa of Italy, Fukushiro Nukaga of Japan, Alistair Darling of the United Kingdom, and Jean-Claude Juncker of the Eurogroup.

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KAI RYSSDAL: Here's part of the week's earnings calendar if you want to prepare yourself. We'll get Washington Mutual tomorrow, JP Morgan on Wednesday. Citigroup comes Friday.

This was a big weekend for the big wigs of the financial world. We're talking about the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the G-7. They wrapped up three long days of top-level meetings yesterday. There was some consensus at the margins, but no coordinated plan to unstick the troubled financial markets.

From Washington, Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer has more.


NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: About the best thing you could say about the weekend meetings is there was no public squabbling. It was easy to agree to do nothing. Economist Mark Weisbrot, of the Center for Economic Policy Research, says that's a problem.

MARK WEISBROT: When, you know, everyone stands up at a football game and you stand up by yourself you can see, but if everyone stands up, then nobody can see, and so there's times when you need a coordinated decision.

The financial players came out of their huddle over the weekend and promptly ran off the field. They decided they would each just look after their own economies. The G-7 did say it didn't want to see the dollar slide any more, but the G-7 team is missing some crucial players, China and India. Economist Moyara Ruehsen, of the Monterey Institute of International Studies, says that limits the G-7's impact.

MOYARA RUEHSEN: What we have is a conversation only between finance ministers and central bankers from western Europe, North America and Japan.

But Fred Bergsten, of the Peterson Institute for international economics, says it's not clear the world would take action, even if China and India were included. That's because many countries feel the US is to blame for its own problems. The US economy sneezed, and nobody even said gesundheit.

FRED BERGSTEN: When the US sneeze does not lead to pneumonia or even a cold abroad, it really demonstrates a decoupling, through the great expansion of trade among countries outside the United States.

Bergsten says the world hasn't been this decoupled from the US economy since World War II.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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