G20 Gobbledygook Eclipsed By Obamania?

Here's the final communique of the G20 summit, sort of like the final research paper put together by a team of egos and rivals. (It begins: "We, the Leaders of the Group of Twenty, met in London on 2 April 2009.") President Obama was supposed to convince European leaders to spend more money on their home economies; he didn't do that. Instead, the White House -- and the world -- were preoccupied by Obama's side meetings. There he is, making amends with Medvedev; look -- he's bantering with Hu.  He gave the Queen an iPod!  Michelle touched the Queen's back!

All these distractions from the common purpose served the Obama White House well. News blackout aside, they're sending home great pictures, and they've got a report card full of good grades (incomplete as they are) to show their mommies.  I gather from the financial press that there are a few "winners" of the summit. One is the IMF, which will get an infusion of at least a trillion dollars from richer countries in order to dampen the effects of the global downturn in less developed countries. The comminique includes a long section on protectionism, more money pledged to protect against protectionism (!) and a reaffirmation of the principles of the Doha round of trade negotiations.  I take it that Germany and France wanted tighter regulations on hedge funds and other financial instruments, and the final document creates a standards board that will standardize...not much, yet, but it's a step.

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There may indeed have been "friction" between the Americans and some European leaders on issues like accounting standards, but this blog evaluates the political consequences of President Obama's activities for his domestic audience. You'd be forgiven for not seeing too much coverage of the economic debate, and for thinking that Obama Style Eclipised Merkel Substance, and not the other way round.  The message is probably different in Europe -- the U.S. didn't get what it wanted, but I think the national security message shapers here are OK with that. While it's true that the U.S. hoped for some flexibility on spending, it was important not to appear to be seen as bullying Europe into submission.