Can the G-20 Save the World?

All eyes are on London, as world leaders tackle the financial crisis

ByABC News
March 31, 2009, 11:01 AM

LONDON, March 31, 2009 -- All eyes are on London this week as leaders from the world's leading economies gather to find a way out of the growing financial crisis. But tensions are growing between the US, Europe and China, and a common course has so far proven elusive.

It is an important test for the new US president. During his campaign, Barack Obama promised fundamental change, pledged to steer a determined course in combating the global economic crisis and said he would seek greater international cooperation. It was, he said, to be a "New Deal."

This week, an important international summit meeting is about to begin, and the time has come for Obama to demonstrate that he can deliver on his promises. At their meeting in London, the representatives of the world's leading industrialized nations will discuss the global recession, a financial industry in disarray and a sharp drop in world trade.

At issue is the steepest economic downturn in decades, and everyone is waiting to see what the new man in Washington will do. Will he be responsive to the Europeans' insistence on a new global financial order? Or will he focus instead on stimulating growth in his own country?

The president who determined the fate of the London Monetary and Economic Conference in 1933, at the height of the world economic crisis, was Franklin D. Roosevelt. His eventual decision to distance himself from the conference aggravated the global trade wars and deepened the Great Depression.

Seventy-six years later, another international crisis conference is now set to begin. Once again, banks have collapsed and millions of people have become unemployed. In the wake of sharp declines in the securities markets and a sell-off in the financial industry, the world faces the prospect of widespread hardship. As the representatives of the leading nations meet in London once again, all eyes are focused on the American president.