4 Nov 2011

G20 – no big numbers agreed at Cannes

Oh dear. Not much coming out of G20 by the look of it.

Still waiting for the final session to break up and the formal commnunique, but the big new boost to the firepower of the IMF that Britain was pushing for? It looks like they managed to agree that finance ministers would have more meetings to think about it.

The US’s Tim Geithner has, I hear, been repeating in CannesĀ  his long-standing argument that Europe has the power to sort itself out and shouldn’t be getting outsiders to do it. That’s a disappointment for David Cameron who has been lobbying President Obama to ride in with him to boost IMF reserves.

There’s no sign yet of any commmitment or gesture from anyone towards supporting the EFSF – the Eurozone bail-out fund. President Hu kept his cards, as ever, close to his chest and the text of his remarks to the G20 show no mention of it.

The Italian Prime Minister, in the separate “Eurozone + US + IMF” talks, has (according to the EU President, Herman von Rompuy) had some extraordinary epiphany and decided it really would be lovely to have the IMF in Italy crawling all over his austerity plan to see if he is honouring it. Really? Mr von Rompuy said the talks with Italy were “serene” and “not a diktat.” Three times he said that Italy and Greece are “different.” The effect was slightly desperate.

Britain and the US amongst others were also using these talks to try to pile pressure on the Germans to let the ECB buy bonds in the Eurozone in perpetuity. No sign Germany has moved on this. But realistically the best the US and the UK would hope for on this is a sense that the Germans have not completely closed their mind to the idea if all other bullets have been fired.

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