The Other I

April 1, 2009

Obama in Britain

Filed under: Political thoughts,The Economy: a Neophyte's View — theotheri @ 9:08 pm

 Barack & Michelle Obama are here on his first presidential visit to Britain.  He is as charming and gracious as ever, and the media are giving him wall-to-wall coverage.  All the news programs showed him meeting the Queen, etc.   One journalist asked him if there was anything he liked especially about Great Britain, to which he replied “Yes.  The people.”  Gordon Brown, whose popularity has been in negative territory, is basking in some of the star dust.

Obama seems to have reached a significant agreement with the Russians over nuclear arms reduction, but nobody really knows if what the G20 is doing is going to help turn the world economy around. One analyst says that if it works, it should be evident toward the end of 2009 or early 2010, but that if it doesn’t, it could feed on itself for years.  The US, China, Britain, and Japan are focussing on the need for a global  stimulus package, while the French and Germans are pushing for urgent bank reforms on a global basis.

The IMF, in the meantime, is worried about the under-developed countries, and about protectionism destroying the international trade on which their fragile prosperity depends.   Some economists are worried about the still unknown size of the toxic debt – informed estimates are that banks are holding a total of anything from three trillion to a quadrillion dollars worth of this stuff.  They say that credit really won’t start to flow again until these hidden financial “weapons of mass destruction” are found and cauterized.

And anybody at all with a sense of history remembers not only the poverty of the Great Depression, but the political repercussions in the form of facism the Nazis, that ultimately culminated in the second World War.

The world won’t be the same when this crisis is over.  In fact, it’s already changed.  As Obama said today, America cannot spend the global economy out of this recession by itself.

Hopefully, we won’t have to fight a war before the economy turns around this time.  It’s a worry though.

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