G20: Leaders' Showdown After Greek Vote



They may be in the grips of a new depression, watching their bold currency project collapse before their eyes, but if European leaders were hoping for sympathy from their fellow leaders at the G20 summit, they are likely to be disappointed.

The primary sense among the non-Europeans in Los Cabos, the Mexican resort where the summit is taking place this week, is one of frustration.

It is not as if the Europeans have not had time to address their problems.

Six (SNP: ^SIXY - news) months ago, at the last G20, the situation was eerily similar - Greece on the brink of economic chaos, Europe (Chicago Options: ^REURUSD - news) facing recession but unable to agree on a solution.

And yet here we are again: Greek politicians playing brinksmanship with Angela Merkel; neither of them willing to concede much ground, and causing economic uncertainty around the world.

The one thing that has shifted since last time is that collateral damage is already starting to take place.

The world is facing another economic slump - coming at the worst possible time for its two biggest economies, the US and China.

Both of their leaders face a potential transition of power in the coming year - in Barack Obama's case the presidential election, in Hu Jintao's case the handover of power to his successor in China.

Nor indeed should the Europeans expect any extra cash from their international counterparts.

After all, remember that this summit is happening in Mexico.

Two decades ago this country was facing its own sovereign debt crisis - one that isn't so different to the one certain European nations are currently encountering.

Back then, it was the Americans urging the world, the IMF (Berlin: MXG1.BE - news) and the powers-that-be to bailout the troubled country.

Back then, the Europeans were the ones standing in the way of the bailout, urging the donors to be cautious.

So sympathy, whether in financial or political terms, isn't on the menu here. The size of the IMF's bailout fund may well be increased by more than expected - but it will be made very clear that that is not specifically for Europe.

Europe, or to be more precise, Germany, have resources enough of their own to sort out their crisis - whether that means softening the terms of Greece's bailout, or providing extra cash for Italy or Spain.

Having said that, no one wants the world economy to face another 2009.

So if there is market chaos on Monday or Tuesday, expect some kind of reaction from the G20 - perhaps action from the world's major central banks.

But remember: that's not just about saving Europe's skin - it's also about saving themselves.

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