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The G20: an introduction

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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Leaders of 20 of the world’s biggest economies are meeting in South Korea today. Over the next few days, we’re gonna hear a lot about how the G20 will tackle currency manipulation and trade wars, among other things. But we thought we’d give you a little primer of what the G20 is, and how it’ll affect the global economy.

Marketplace’s Stephen Beard is here, live from London, to break it down for us. Hi Stephen


CHIOTAKIS: So alright, the 20 biggest economies, that sounds like a big deal — is it?

BEARD: Yes, certainly. These are the leaders of the 19 richest economies including the U.S. and China plus the European Union as a group. Between them they represent 85% of the global economy — so, pretty significant.

CHIOTAKIS: OK, so it’s a powerful bunch. But how effective is it in working together?

BEARD: The G20 became the world’s main economic forum in 2008 as the global economic crisis began to unfold and the body did prove effective then by these countries getting together and agreeing to coordinate policies and stimulate their economies. Here’s Sean Rickard, senior economist at the Cranfield School of Management.

SEAN RICKARD:I think they probably prevented a 1930s slump, sweeping across the world, so one has it say it does have its uses. It has been very successful.

CHIOTAKIS: But, Stephen, the global economy hasn’t fully recovered. Can this group score another success at this meeting?

BEARD: Oh it seems much less likely. We’re out of the immediate crisis. The panic’s subsided and minds aren’t quite so concentrated and there are big divisions. I mean some countries feel they should cut their debt. Others like the U.S. want to continue with the stimulus and we’ve got that bitter row over currency manipulation between China and the U.S. It was all a lot easier when the old G7 was the main economic forum. When U.S. ruled the roost with its European allies but those days are long gone down. Now we’ve got to cooperate with many more players.

CHIOTAKIS: Certainly remember those G7 days. Alright, Stephen, thanks.

BEARD: OK Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: Marketplace’s Stephen Beard in London.

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