The G20 summit that took place this weekend has drawn a lot of coverage.
South Africa is represented in the G20 and our delegates were there.
The problem with a lot of these summits is that they are pure talking shops or as Business Day put it "the summit was big on resounding intentions and short on concrete plans".
This is hardly surprising when the summit is run by a bunch of politicians who measure their success by headlines rather than bottom lines.
The summit did very little to clamp down on the international market volatility which is the largest driver of any effects South Africa is going to feel. The summit leaders agreed on the fact that a rapid plan would be necessary to bring the crisis under control.
Business Report quoted GW Bush "It makes sense to come out of here with a firm action plan, which we have" Surely some mistake? Or is this just a repeat of "mission accomplished" as the summit did not in fact endorse any specific plans, instead they agreed on generalities and that old fall back, today we had a meeting and at that meeting we agreed to have another meeting, this means our meeting was a success and by these terms of reference, so shall the next.
One of the few concrete outcomes of the conference was that the IMF had its lending budget increased; this was to service all the countries they expect to come cap-in-hand for a bail out over the next few months.
AllAfrica.com carried a press release from the World Bank on the summit, but it is long on platitudes and short on solutions apart from throwing money around. However the Economist was after the opinion that the summit was not just empty rhetoric but had some common sense reforms included.
The Huffington Post lamented the lack of specificity in the summit's declaration and stated that those who had least to do with causing the financial crisis are those who are suffering the most. They also state that in comparison to previous meetings of the G8 they have also been long on good words but that hardly 5% of summit agreements actually become reality. When the G20 with its expanded membership meets, can we really expect much more?
In other news The Dispatch reports that vehicle sales have fallen since 2007. Fin24 reports that South African homes are taking on less debt and that savings have increased. iAfrica reports that the financial markets are expecting a 300 basis point cut in interest rates over the next two years. Some analysts feel that this is over optimistic while others are just quietly getting on with it.
The Business Times in its Bank Notes column noted that things may be quite bad here but that they are nowhere as bad as they are abroad and then they look at some of the difficulties SA banks face in the international credit market collapse.
After this analysis the HuffPo came to the conclusion that the "wizards, business leaders, pundits, economists and political leaders who cheer-led for the "free market" should be re-upped for more service, promoted, encouraged, given Cabinet jobs and higher compensation." Because in actual fact it was not their empty and greedy rhetoric which caused the crash but Bozo the Clown.