G20 summit was not the "battle royale" people expected

G20 summit in Seoul on November 12, 2010.

TEXT OF STORY

JEREMY HOBSON: Leaders of the world's 20 wealthiest nations rang the closing bell on their annual summit today. There was no trade deal between the U.S. and South Korea. No formal call for countries to stop undervaluing their currencies. And not much of a public currency fight between the U.S. and China.

So -- what did happen at the summit?

Here's Marketplace's Rob Schmitz with the play-by-play.


ROB SCHMITZ: It turns out the "battle royale" everyone was expecting had already happened in the messy lead-up to the summit. What emerged from the more civil G20 summit, says economist Michael Pettis, was a weak agreement for countries to keep an eye on unsustainable trade imbalances.

MICHAEL PETTIS: No framework for deciding what is a unsustainable imbalance, and there's no mechanism for forcing unsustainable imbalances to go away, so basically, it doesn't really mean much.

Countries with surpluses say they need them for growth. Deficit countries like the U.S. blame high unemployment on demand that's leaked abroad. Pettis says as long as both sides are convinced they're right, nothing will be accomplished. How will we know if today's agreed-upon framework will work? Leaders said they'd wait to finish their "imbalance assessment" at next year's G20 summit.

In Shanghai, I'm Rob Schmitz, for Marketplace.

About the author

Rob Schmitz is Marketplace’s China correspondent in Shanghai.

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