The (G-20)—or the bloated version of the Group of Seven (G-7)—will meet in London this Thursday. Tensions are running high as street protestors await controversy to ooze from officially sealed doors and windows. And fanning the flames, politicians have pinned the free world's hopes to a laundry list of ambitious, paradigm-shifting [insert jargony goals here].
Oh, the drama as our strapping leaders flex for their constituencies! The UK's Gordon Brown has called to the financial system, à la Bretton Woods. French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, he'll "walk out" on the talks if things aren't moving quickly enough. more influence at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
And don't forget America's new president. Seeing EU stimulus spending lagging, the Obama administration has requested commitments for more. Naturally, the EU countries will have none of it. They don't take orders from those arrogant Americans! Will our youthful president have the moxie to stand up to his crotchety foes in this, his grand international debut? The intrigue is thicker than week-old porridge—worthy of our greatest soap operas.
But like the soaps, summit drama generally falls short of real action—tune in next time to find out whether Mandy will leave Zeke to marry Sergio! Ultimately, after this episode's credits roll, no international agency can enforce G-20 promises. Countries will do what's in their own best interests. Maybe that means tougher regulation or freer trade or more stimulus. In any case, it's more important to separate today's action from hyperbole when thinking about stock market ramifications. What are these countries really doing?
Actually, they're doing quite a bit. The world's governments have acted in concert to a greater extent than ever before—both and. And those fiscal laggards the US is complaining about? Well, they may be a bit behind, but they do have spending packages in place and appear increasingly open to moving beyond comfort zones. The traditionally conservative European Central Bank (ECB) recently announced it would its balance sheet to include corporate bonds—a significant step and perhaps indicative of their true stimulus posture.
Free trade is another area worthy of our attention. We've heard some protectionist barking, even witnessed a few nips. But there haven't yet been any drastic measures, like those sparking the Great Depression's Smoot-Hawley tariff war. Mexico's recent retaliatory tariffs on of US goods make up less than 1% of total trade () between the two countries.
Taken as a whole, global stimulus has been massive, with or without the G-20. Trade (as one would expect during a severe recession), but protectionism isn't out of control. Eventually, stimulus measures will take hold, and when they do, economies across the globe are largely well-positioned for recovery—soapy antics at international conferences notwithstanding.
If you would like to contact the editors responsible for this article, please click here.
*The content contained in this article represents only the opinions and viewpoints of the Fisher Investments editorial staff.