March 14th, 2009
11:38 AM GMT
HORSHAM, England - I am sitting in the press tent at the G20 Finance Ministers, having just watched the "family photo" being taken. (What is the collective noun for such a group? A stimulus of ministers? - thanks to craigeyles on Twitter for that. A Recovery of Financiers?)
There are of course actually 26 groups in the room - the IMF, World Bank, ECB all come along, as well as Spain and the Netherlands as the special invitation of the hosts.
Actually there seems to be a great deal more people everywhere, and it is upon their shoulders and those of their political bosses, that rests the future course of this "Great Recession" - a phrase coined this week by the IMF Managing Director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
And I doubt few of them every believed they would find their economies in the horrible position they are today.
Here in the rural West Sussex countryside, at a grand looking country house hotel, they are attempting to sort out the very real differences that exist between them. Despite the world economy facing the first recession since the 1940s, they do not have a common view on how it should be handled.
The U.S. (with the UK in tow) wants other nations to provide greater stimulus packages. The Europeans along with some Asian economies want agreement on better regulation.
Everyone agrees on giving the IMF more money to help bail out distressed countries, but some, like Brazil, will only sign on the dotted line if they get greater power within the Fund.
There is nothing new about any of these issues, positions taken or disagreements, except the seriousness of the situation.
Bob Zoellick the president of the World Bank described the economic conditions this year as "dangerous."
So even though it was all smiles at the group photo taken outside this magnificent period hotel - those inside can't escape the fact that what they are deciding will influence the course of this recession for months to come.
Are they upto the job ? That's a moot question. They are the only ones we've got, so whether we like it or not, our financial future is in their hands
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