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The Bull Meter: Michael Ignatieff on what got done at the G8/G20 summits

‘Name one thing that got solved at the G8/G20 summit’? We’ve got two.


 

[mac_quote person=”Michael Ignatieff” date=”March 28, 2011″]Name one thing that got solved at the G8/G20 summit. We got nothing done. It wasn’t just that it cost a billion dollars, it wasn’t just that it shut down a whole city, it was that we didn’t get anything done for Canada, for the people in the world who look to our leadership to get something done.[/mac_quote]

[mac_bull score=”3″]

Okay, we’ll bite. In fact, we’ve got two things for Ignatieff: there was progress, however modest, on both maternal and child care efforts and with fiscal reform.

John Kirton, director of the G8 Research Group and an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto, says Ignatieff is glazing over some rather important achievements in dismissing the summits. The G8 summit in Muskoka notably managed to secure $7.3-billion to fund the maternal and child health initiative. That figure increased to $40-billion three months later at a UN Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York. “By not spending the money on hosting the summit,” says Kirton, “we would not have raised those funds.”

Meanwhile, the G20 summit in Toronto had one job: to stop the euro crisis by convincing markets that indebted nations were serious about cutting their deficits. This was achieved, in part, with the so-called “Toronto Consensus,” which saw developed nations agree to halve their deficits by 2013. While the Irish and Portuguese debt crises that followed the summit rendered the Toronto Consensus somewhat obsolete, Kirton says “it could have been a lot worse.”

Roland Paris, director of the Centre for International Policy and professor of international affairs at the University of Ottawa, is more critical of the Toronto summit. While he says there was modest progress made on global health and financial reform, the Harper government went too far in trumpeting the successes of the G8/G20 summits. But Paris agrees with Kirton that Ignatieff’s assessment is lacking. “It’s fair to highlight the disparity between the enormous costs and limited accomplishments of these summits,” he says. “It’s not correct to say that they achieved ‘nothing.'”

Heard something that doesn’t sound quite right? Send quotes from the campaign trail to macbullmeter@gmail.com and we’ll tell you just how much bull they contain.

Sources:

The G20 Toronto Summit Declaration

G8/20 Research Group (University of Toronto)

Centre for International Policy Studies (University of Ottawa)


 

The Bull Meter: Michael Ignatieff on what got done at the G8/G20 summits

  1. “It's fair to highlight the disparity between the enormous costs and limited accomplishments of these summits,” he says. “It's not correct to say that they achieved ‘nothing.'”

    Ahh the hair-splitting, parsing-of-words-game counts for 3 bulls does it?

  2. I don't understand this line of attack. Whether they achieved anything is not particularly a fault or virtue of Harper. My issue was that it cost most for security for three days than it cost to secure the Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Games over a month's time frame and dozens of potential venue/targets. I have yet to see a breakdown of where the money went. It also cost far and away more than any other G20 meeting. How is that justified?

    My other concern was the suspension of civil liberties and police excesses.

  3. And Europe must be so pleased that their financial problems have been
    solved. Things are going swimmingly now.

  4. Yup, straightened that right out eh? LOL

  5. But he said nothing was accomplished, when in fact some things were accomplished. This is hair-splitting?

    Okay, well I suppose it's just hair-splitting when people note that even though Harper said there would be no recession, there in fact was one.

    Yep, hair-splitting all over the place.

  6. LOL 'modest and limited' vary from 'nothing' by a fraction of a hair….a very expensive hair.

    Recessions are in a different ball-park altogether….on the other side of town

    But thanks for bringing that up.

  7. "Meanwhile, the G20 summit in Toronto had one job: to stop the euro crisis by convincing markets that indebted nations were serious about cutting their deficits."

    Some economists would argue that the austerity agreed to in Toronto was a serious mistake. Compare Iceland and Ireland and now Britain to get an idea how two very different approaches panned (or are panning) out.

    [ http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/30/the-i… ]

  8. From the two Krugman articles I’ve read today (two more than usual) he’s saying that having their own currency is what got Iceland out of their mess by inflation that effectively is a huge wage cut for everybody so they were able to improve exports by cheaper labour costs. I don’t see him knocking austerity although it does seem that if you’re really in trouble you need your currency to tank.

  9. uh, this is a short form of the other article I read and, yeah he’s definitely knocking austerity budgets. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/30/opinion/30krugm

    Guess I’m a little out of it today :0 Although massive cuts in workers wages aren’t exactly a pain-free option. I guess the other big benefit of devaluing your currency Krugman likes is that its also effectively defaulting on your loans to the percentage that the money becomes worth less – but that’s probably going to cause you to pay more for loans in the future.

    Interestingly, while I was looking for that article again I came across someone claiming that Krugman was against improving the US budget balance at the peak of the economy before the crash too. Keynes himself thought that deficit spending was for recessions and to be paid for by surpluses in the good years.

  10. I think Krugman describes himself as a "new Keynesian" (also a "salt water school" economist unlike, say Milton Friedman) and lately has argued that deficits matter less when interest rates are at the "zero lower bound". As a neophyte in economics, I enjoy reading his (to me) accessible commentary and comparing his ideas to other opinion at sites like Vox EU. So far, Krugman seems to be on a sensible track compared to some of his contemporaries, but hey, that might simply be my naive bias at work.

  11. This is fair and I agree with paris's analysis.

  12. Name one of those that required the chaos of that weekend in a major city and the abrogation of the civil rights of Torontonians.

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