November 1st, 2011
01:01 AM GMT
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Cannes, France (CNN) - As the sun sets over the French Riviera, its capital of glitz and glamour feels more like a port in the storm than a tranquil retreat for the rich and carefree.

Cannes is a town more used to welcoming talking heads than heads of state; a place where panels pick their favorite motion picture, not monetary policy.

This week though Cannes will welcome a different kind of debate.

I've known France's Tinseltown since I was a toddler and the place has always appeared impervious to economic upheaval. Through boom and bust, Cannes has carried on regardless, doing what it does best: Catering to old money and oligarchs alike.

This sun-drenched scene is a perfect setting then for emerging markets and established economies to square off when chiefs of the 20 most industrialized nations meet this week to set the agenda for the year ahead.

They are meeting as Greece's government teeters on collapse, following its PM George Papandreou's decision to call for a referendum on the country's aid package. His call has thrown Europe's grand rescue plan, revealed only last week, into disarray.

An emergency meeting is planned at Cannes Wednesday with Greek officials and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and senior figures from the International Monetary Fund and European Union ahead of the G-20 summit, which begins here Thursday.

The stakes couldn't be higher, with eurozone countries - like France, 2011's G-20 host - now battling to shore up confidence in a common currency which prices a quarter of the world's foreign exchange reserves.

Saving money is one thing the emerging markets have been good at of late, while their sanctimonious European partners developed a tendency to spend.

Perhaps this town knows something 'the West and the rest' doesn't: Along Cannes's seafront, large billboards proudly proclaim that this G-20 will be a place "where history being is written."

Then again, Cannes could just be drawing on the false confidence the French President is famous for.

Days after his glorious return from the EU summit in Brussels, Nicolas Sarkozy will once again take center stage.

As one of the eurozone's two self-appointed saviors, Sarkozy's first task will be to try and tap China for an enormous loan to support the eurozone.

That's easier said than done when your bigger betting partner - Germany - won't put more of their money on the table and no one else will show their cards either.

China, for its part, has made many promises to many people through the years, though it has been slow to deliver.

Gold standard guarantees will have to be offered to get China's President Hu Jintao to reach for his renminbi.

Once the first hurdle is passed, the French leader will have to reassure his colleagues that Europe won't just skirt a recession but will return to growth, despite some obvious structural imbalances that its leaders have only just begun to tackle.

Imbalances that have prompted a "lost generation" of young and unemployed to take to the streets with anti-capitalist movements, springing up from Madrid to London.

In Cannes, however, it seems authorities are taking no chance.

The streets and hotels are swarming with around 12,000 police.

Cars have been cleared from parking lots and those without the proper clearance pushed back miles outside the town.

Police motorbikes are patrolling the freeway exits, and the Italian /French border is closed.

Early Tuesday, the U.S. President's two giant official vehicles were carefully driven into his hotel parking lot amid tight security.

As delegates began to trickle into Cannes, protesters camped out a few kilometres down the road in Nice.

Among them, 200 members of the Spanish movement 'the Indignants'.

One demonstrator hailing from Catalunya – who would only call himself David - told local newspaper Nice Matin he was there to tell world leaders "if you deny us our dreams you deny us our sleep," a reference to the lack of prospects in his native land.

Last week Spain's unemployment rate touched 21.5%. Youth unemployment stands around double that amount.

Perhaps appropriately, then, the G20 will be anything but a boon for Cannes's plentiful bars and boutiques.

Gone are the tyrants and trophy wives. In their place: Diplomats and their drivers who I am informed spend considerably less.

Many stores have decided to close up shop completely to avoid the confusion, like the tobacconist on the old town's Rue du Suquet.

Owner Yves Imbert says, "Let's hope this G20 is worth it because the crisis is pretty serious." He added, "I am worried about France's future. Its influence."

The truth is France and Europe's negotiating position is far from what it once was.

Once the bodyguards and helicopters have gone, France will still be a country with 9.6% unemployment; a nation whose economy didn't grow at all in the second quarter.

soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. YHB

    Cannes! Where "history being is written" and billboard makers talk like Yoda.

    November 2, 2011 at 3:45 am |
  2. Jonathan

    OK...maybe I'm missing it. I see Cameron, Obama, Merkel, Sarkozy...maybe Zapatero in the picture. Who are the others?

    November 2, 2011 at 6:31 am |
  3. whatwhat

    Why is Obamas hand white?

    November 2, 2011 at 7:04 am |
  4. Lucas87

    Medmedev (russia), Dilma Roussef (brasilia), South Africa and India president.

    November 2, 2011 at 7:30 am |
  5. Lucas87

    error : medvedev, not medmedev

    November 2, 2011 at 7:31 am |
  6. solomon

    ...and they are leading by example..... Cannes...the perfect backdrop for discussions about austerity.

    November 2, 2011 at 8:51 am |
  7. suzy diamond

    In a word...NO! For some VERY strange reason Hollyweird thinks they have the ability to do anything! Guess again Hollyweird! You don't have as much POWER as you think you have!

    November 2, 2011 at 8:55 am |
  8. suzy diamond

    ............AND.........WHY is Obama photo shopped into EVERYTHING!!!!! Does he REALLY want to be associated with Hollyweird? Does he REALLY think they are mainstream????? REALLY????

    November 2, 2011 at 8:57 am |
  9. English patriot!

    UK out of the EU.... NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We have nothing in common with any of them and want to trade with our real friends the Commonwealth + US!!!!!!!!!!

    November 2, 2011 at 9:59 am |
  10. sherman

    So had the UK been part of the euro it would have worked? they are not euro partners because they are the recipient of the failure's shift and largess.

    November 2, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  11. English patriot!

    Not at all... We never wanted to be part of the Euro and we never wanted to part of the EU... We forced in by being lied to in 1973... We voted for a common market NOT a Superstate.

    The Germans are the same as always... Watch them!!! This will unraval into a war... Shame for them is that the British army is a hardened fighting force after 10yrs in Iraq and Afghan, the German army is a shadow of its former self.

    If that old witch merkel wants it, we are just across the North Sea... She knows that! And as for the French, they are an ignorant joke who never learn there lesson

    November 2, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  12. m.s.mohamed ansari


    M.S.Mohamed Ansari 13 April 2011

    All press and media Arabs leader and G20 leader under control by A TO Z + 8
    QUEEN + 8
    Royal wedding cost. And security force 10 generation total $ 57 trillion
    Each every politician rolling 8 years only just like chess game
    But queen family enjoying 10 generation

    GLOBAL ECONOMIC FALL REASON WAR. Improve Economy only 6 points. Peace, prayer
    Liberty, Unity, friendly And simplicity

    I am also happy to kill osma bin laden
    Turing point of global economy. Islam not allowed to be Terrorist and Terrorist people are not a Muslim
    1. Please avoid war. Day by Day war cost increase $ 3.5 trillion
    2. Global economy and food price every Day increase
    3. International job less Y. All businessmen effected business.
    4. Global financial crisis every CNC manufacture. New technology energy product Effected FDI investors.
    5. Every Day OPEC Oil Price Increase
    6. World poverty problem
    7. Each every single man Effected
    8. Ignore future Death million of already Death
    9. Million of People Wounded
    10. Global environment climate will be change this will lead Global Agriculture problem


    From. Mr.M.S.Mohamed Ansari,
    154, Angappa Naicken Street,
    Chennai – 600 001.
    Tamil Nadu,
    To , The Hon’ble Chief Justice,
    The Supreme Court,
    United States of America,
    Washington, D.C.
    Fax no: 213.547.8080
    Dear Sir,
    Sub: Prosecution of previous President Mr. George W.Bush, for violation of International Code of Conduct.
    Mr. George W.Bush, the previous President of United States of America, initiated a war against IRAQ, without obtaining the previous sanction of United Nations Organization (UNO) on the pretext of having nuclear weapons, even though the then IRAQ government openly exhibited to the whole world that it has no nuclear weapons.
    According to the CNN WORLD report, in the war 6, 75,000 civilians killed, 7500 troops of USA and its allied forces killed 3 25 000 people wounded and $ 3.5 Trillion Dollar spent for the war. This spending of $ 3.5 Trillion Dollar is the main cause of action for the present economic crises prevailing all over the world.
    After winning the war against IRAQ, the United States of America’s President Mr. George W.Bush, also admitted the same fact, and he openly stated that the Intelligence agency misguided him.
    Later on, even the United Nations Organization (UNO) also certified that the IRAQ has no nuclear weapons.
    Then it is the bounded duty of the United States of America and its allied forces to withdraw from IRAQ.
    But instead of withdrawing from IRAQ, the United States of America and its allied forces formed a government in IRAQ, under their control and administered the entire IRAQ, and its peoples.
    This indicates a clear violation of duty by the President of United States of America Mr. George W.Bush and also a clear case of violation of the International Code of Conduct for UNO members.
    Thus Mr. George W.Bush attracts prosecution for the above said offence.
    Thus I hereby pray this Hon’ble Court initiate criminal proceedings against Mr. George W. Bush, and give him maximum punishment for
    a) initiating the war against the IRAQ
    b) killing its innocent IRAQI peoples
    c) Killing troops of USA and allied forces and
    d) The present economic crises.
    e) 3 25 000 civilian and coalition 39 000 wounded
    Dated on this day of 13th day of April, 2009.
    Yours truly, (M.S.MOHAMED ANSARI)
    The Chief Justice, the International Court of Justice, The Hague, Netherlands.
    The Secretary General United Nations Organization
    The Chief Justice, the Supreme Court, IRAQ.
    His Excellency Mr.Barack Obama, the President of United States of America, White House, Washington D.C.

    November 2, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  13. ckarke

    well good luck with it.. Must be a slow news day.

    November 2, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  14. DaLe

    Short-term and Eurozone is one thing, long-term and global a bit different thing. E.g. business lobbies (or such) enticing further conflicts and misery in e.g. Africa, sure ain't a reasonable solution for anyone. Private debts (and the difficulty of tracking the real debts and their amount when they are kept outside banks, respectivly with private subjects) is another issue that sure needs at least addressing. After all, all that money that went on interest rates could have gone on buying (more) stuff.

    November 2, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  15. haki

    llz tl mr obama come kenya and tk ua son fsf

    November 2, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  16. haki

    go fb martin mezvinsky

    November 2, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  17. Paul Johnston, PhD Economics

    Paul Johnston, PhD Economics, Athens

    November 3, 2011 at 5:54 am |
  18. Ntoh kingsley

    Europe today has been today has forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their for the sake of their public duties this is a short route to chaos

    November 3, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  19. Ntoh kingsley

    the whole thing is dramatic

    November 3, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
  20. icons pack

    P.S. Please review Pool Icon from desktop-device-icons

    September 21, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  21. icon collection

    At you abstract thinking

    October 4, 2012 at 8:02 pm |

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