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With crisis spreading, G-20 leaders eye quick relief

The G-20 nations, representing most of the world's economy and population, are convening with the knowledge that they will sink or swim together.

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SOURCE: Merrill Lynch/Rich Clabaugh/STAFF

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A meeting of world leaders this week probably won't reach any grand conclusions about how to fix a broken financial system, but it could result in some immediate relief – possibly new commitments to stimulate faltering global growth.

The need now appears urgent, economists say.

A year ago the financial crisis was US-centered and associated with fallout from a housing downturn. Today it is global. Some European nations appear more vulnerable than the United States, and growth in Asia is sputtering.

The so-called G-20 nations, representing most of the world's economy and population, are convening with the knowledge that they will sink or swim together. What happens in one nation quickly ripples to affect others.

"All countries are moving into a new danger zone with heightened risks to exports and investment [and] budgets," World Bank President Robert Zoellick said last weekend. "We need to make sure that the financial crisis doesn't become a human crisis."

In fact, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a sibling of the World Bank, has put out a new forecast that for the first time since World War II, the advanced nations of the world would all be in recession next year, with economic activity shrinking collectively by 0.3 percent.

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