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G-7 Summitry

As a talk shop, it could be the one with the biggest megaphone.

The G-7 summit of the world's richest nations has tried for nearly three decades to coordinate policies to boost the global economy. This weekend it meets again, in France, but with low expectations that it can do much.

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At its best, the G-7 can coordinate actions to assist Africa and other trouble spots and allow leaders to renew personal ties. But it rarely brings enough market restructuring to boost economies. And right now, that's what the world needs.

Low growth, high unemployment, and the specter of deflation are dogging most of the developed world. Europe is wary of deep reforms that would upset its social-safety net, while President Bush is banking on tax cuts to revive the US economy.

One bright spot is China, with growth of more than 6 percent and an economy now bigger than France's. Its leader has been invited to some of the summit, as has the Russian leader for the past decade (thus the "G-8" portion of the summit).

The gathering could have one diplomatic plus: It will bring Mr. Bush together with the leaders of France, Germany, and Russia - his main opponents over the Iraq war. At that level, this talk shop has its uses.


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