Ahead of this weekend’s G20 summit, David and I have published a short paper entitled A Bretton Woods II worthy of the name. Key points:
– The summit is unlikely to be able to live up to its billing. Leaders do not yet understand the nature of the problem well enough to be able to implement viable solutions. However, the problem is more fundamental than a simple lack of shared awareness.
– History suggests that leaders will only think the unthinkable on institutional reform once the challenge they face has really hit rock bottom. But history also suggests that we are wrong to think that the worst of the crisis is now past, given that many past banking crises have taken five years or more to unravel.
– Bretton Woods 1 looked across the whole international economic waterfront in 1944, while this weekend’s summit will be much more narrowly focused. Leaders will make a big mistake if they try and tackle finance in isolation, given the growing impact of resource scarcity, and that 2009 is supposed to see another ambitious global deal – on climate.
– We need to recalibrate what we expect from globalization through a serious debate about subsidiarity. Where has globalization gone too far, too fast? Where do we need more integration at a global level? These were exactly the questions that preoccupied Keynes in 1933, when he weighed the relative benefits of global versus local across a range of variables. We need a similar debate today as a precursor to serious international economic reform.
– Leaders need to extend their horizons in (at least) five directions: onto longer time scales; beyond financial regulation into wider resource scarcity challenges; into other international processes, especially climate; towards grand bargains with emerging powers; and beyond government, to non-governmental networks.
Full version after the jump, or better yet here’s the pdf.