Is the G8 still relevant?

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and company at G8 Summit in Toyako, Hokkaido, Japan

Anti-G8 activists wearing the masks of the G8 leaders perform at a rally in Saporro, Japan -- July 7, 2008


Renita Jablonski: General Motors already has a for-sale sign on its Hummer brand, and the garage sale at GM could soon include names like Buick, Saturn, and Saab. The Wall Street Journal reports the auto maker is thinking about whether to sell or stop production of more of its brands. Chevrolet and Cadillac are the only names the company considers core to its business. The Journal says GM is also planning to cut thousands of white collar jobs.

The company has a goal of returning to profitability in 2010. U.S. auto sales hit a 15-year low in June. GM and the others are dealing with the credit crunch and rising prices for raw materials and oil.

All of those things are getting attention this week at the G8 Summit. Talks got underway today in Japan, but the hopes for the meeting aren't too great. A lot of the leaders are politically weak. President Bush is a lame duck. Nancy Marshall-Genzer has more.

Nancy Marshall Genzer: The issues facing this year's G8 summit are daunting: rising food and energy prices, the credit crunch, and a slowing global economy. The White House hopes the group can reach agreement on aid to Africa and global food and energy security. But even President Bush admits:

President George W. Bush: It's tough to get consensus.

Georgetown University international affairs professor Charles Kupchan says the group is still relevant. It's just:

Charles Kupchan: The nature of the problems that they face are particularly gnarly.

The G8 can't magically reduce demand for oil or increase food production. But Reginald Dale of the Center for Strategic and International Studies says the group could be more effective if it expanded its membership.

Reginald Dale: One of the biggest challenges is to integrate, particularly China, and not rebuff it.

Dale says without rising economies like China and India, the G8 does risk becoming irrelevant.

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.

Anti-G8 activists wearing the masks of the G8 leaders perform at a rally in Saporro, Japan -- July 7, 2008


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