July 7th, 2008
08:02 AM GMT
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LONDON, England – The G-8 summit is meeting once again, and it's once again a reminder of how absurd the gathering is in the new world order.

We in the media slavishly follow and report on it, despite the fact that usually little if anything of substance is accomplished. It's time to have a rethink of its relevance or how it could make itself relevant.

For starters, let's acknowledge that the G-8 accounts for almost half the world's economic output, but it is developing countries and emerging economies that account for 70 percent of the economic growth. China isn't a a member of the G-8, but given its importance in the world economy it certainly should be, so should India and Brazil.

The G-8 will discuss climate change, and China is the world's biggest emitter of carbon. It's been invited to an outreach group at the summit to discuss climate change, but it should be at the center of the table.

High oil prices will also be high on the agenda. The United States, Canada, Russia, and Britain (all members of the G-8 produce 29 percent of the world's oil. But the G-8 plus China consume two thirds of the world's oil output.

Of course, the G-8 will express its concern, and possibly blame speculators for part of the reason for high prices. They'll also undoubtedly ask OPEC to pump more oil. How convienent to look outside their own borders for solutions. Instead, they should be strongly urging conservation in their own countries and giving business massive incentives to come up with cleaner fuel supplies and cars.

Also, if you were going to have a serious discussion about oil prices, wouldn't it make sense to have Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer at the center of the table.

They'll also acknowledge the need to do something about high food prices. But here are the facts thanks to economist Carl Weinberg of High Frequency Economics. The G-8 countries produce 41 percent of the world's wheat, 58 percent if you add in China,and consume the most of it.

The G-8 produces 48 percent of the world's corn, or 68 percent if China is included. As Weinberg points out, "You would think that the assembled majority of world suppliers and buyers of foodstuffs could cook up an answer to falling global grain inventories, which are already at the lowest levels seen in the 60 years that the USDA has produced estimates.

"You might think that the right places to start addressing global food shortages would be in the United States and Euroland – the world's biggest producers of corn and wheat respectively – where farmers are offered subsidies not to plant crops. However, the U.S. and Euroland hold on to their agricultural support programs tenaciously. The Heads are unlikely even to consider tinkering with these entrenched systems," Weinberg concludes. I couldn't agree more.

So the G-8 will address the major issues affecting the global economy, but if it wanted to really be relevant it would take bold measures instead of making vacuous statements. But that would take political courage, something in short supply.

It would also expand membership in the club. The outcome might not be any different, but it would at least be more reflective of the new world order, and that alone might give the summit gathering more relevance.

Tell me what you think, should the G-8 be expanded, does it have any relevance, or do you agree with me that these summits are pretty much a waste of time, and that if they are going to become more relevant, they need to reflect the new world economic order?



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