The G-20 Summit meeting in Cannes wasn't a failure — it was depressing. We should just call them “the 20,” as they have little to show as a group.
This gathering of countries, with Mexico included, is responsible for 90 percent of the global domestic product and more than 80 percent of global commerce. That economic power should be able to move forward with the Greek crisis and the stormy skies hovering over the future of the euro. The whole world was in agreement in the French riviera with the idea that removing the Greek tumor would be beneficial to calming the market and returning to a pattern of growth. However, when it came time to distribute responsibilities and take out the checkbook, the burden was left solely on France and Germany. The same burden left on Russia, China, Brazil and India (the BRIC) to enter the shuffle with part of their international reserve didn't raise the slightest interest. Not only that, the Brazilian delegation severely criticized the Europeans for the delays they show in reaching solutions. They're right. This amazing group that should be contributing compromises, unity and coherence to solve the world's most urgent economic problems now requires therapy to settle their differences.
It's true and it's understandable that the interests brought to the table by G-20 countries as disparate as China and Argentina, or Mexico and Germany, be equally disparate. However, their common concerns should prevail over this as they are clear and urgent: the monetary regulation that until now did not benefit anyone other than the speculators, the unfinished Ronda de Doha and the essential regulation of the financial markets that find themselves at the root of the crisis (and if not, one would ask oneself if the German banks didn't lend money to Greece in the most irresponsible way possible, possibly knowing that at the end of the day they would be transferring their problems to Ms. Merkel).
In Cannes, everyone turned to see Obama with the hope that he'd show the leadership to reach a compromise to resolve the European economic crisis. Like a great bullfighter, he made a few quick steps and left the arena as soon as possible. If the U.S. Economic Stabilization Act hasn't produced the expected results, how can we try to solve problems of global scope?
It's inevitable to recall the way Bill Clinton confronted the Mexican crisis in 1994. He used political funds to convince the North American Congress that a crisis of that magnitude in the 14th largest economy in the world — a neighbor and trade partner of the United States — would end dangerously. He managed to get $50 billion to stimulate the Mexican economy that, in the long run, ended up being a great success for the North American Treasury.
Today, the Greek crisis is being resolved with 150 billion euros (the cost of crises has risen dramatically, taking into account that the Greek economy is a fraction the size of Mexico's!). But there is no leadership or reasoning like Clinton put forth in his day. Seemingly kidnapped by the tea party and pressing internal interests (if they worry Andrés Manuel López Obrador here, imagine how much of a worry they are there!), the President of the United States has no room to exercise the necessary global leadership.
In these precarious conditions, Mexico recieves the G-20 Presidency from the frozen hands of President Sarkozy. For mysterious reasons, the Mexican G-20 Summit in Los Cabos will be in June of next year instead of in November, when it customarily takes place. If they thought that organizing such an eye-catching event two weeks from the presidential elections may bring about important electoral results (the president of France seemed to have thought the same of his own elections; we'll be seeing how that goes for him), it will be better to hold their breath and wait for the prognosis. Surely, by June of 2012 the Greek crisis will have already found its way. But the damage inside of the G-20 will be greater that that left by Cannes; the group will be more fractured than ever. Mexican diplomacy will have its greatest test: to show leadership in a world that now has no head.