November 18, 2010

Obama 'flat-footed' at G-20 summit

DANIEL VOVAK: I include this article because it has been virtually absent from the American media.

President Obama hoped to leave the Group of 20 trade summit boasting a free-trade agreement with South Korea and a host of accords with other countries, but he looks to leave Seoul empty-handed. A trade pact between the U.S. and South Korea, first negotiated by the Bush administration, failed to materialize after Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak couldn’t agree on protections for American workers. Major disputes erupted between the U.S., China, Britain, Germany and Brazil, as each country rejected Obama’s strategy to focus on economic growth before deficit reduction. The international community, joined by former U.S. Fed Chief Alan Greenspan, accused the U.S. of intentionally devaluing its currency to give an edge to American exports. The tone of the summit was a stark departure from recent meetings on the global economy, in which leaders largely came to agreement on economic policy.

With the leaders of the world gathering for two days of economic points and counterpoints under the aegis of the G-20, Seoul has become the scene of a showdown between a testy set of European and Asian powers and a rather flummoxed and flat-footed America represented by President Obama in all his post-Nov. 2 glory and malaise.

The agenda of the meeting has long been telegraphed by multiple mini-summits over the past few months, but with the announcement by the U.S. Federal Reserve this month of $600 billion in further “quantitative easing” (read: printing more money), the tenor has shifted. Two years after the uncorking of the global financial crisis, the United States faces a cohort of other wealthy nations that have had it with being told what to do by Americans, regardless of the merits. They are in a mood to lecture and berate, and recent statements by Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and Fed Chief Ben Bernanke’s actions, have given them ample fodder. CONTINUE READING in Daily Beast

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