Leaders will head to the G-20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, among renewed serious concern about the world economy. The turmoil that started with the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis has resulted in now almost five years of ongoing instability. The emerging market economies fared much better than the advanced economies and pulled out of the crisis already in 2009, but the slowdown we are now facing in 2012 is again global, demonstrating the interdependence in the world economy. The emerging market economies have stronger underlying trend growth rates, but they remain vulnerable to a downturn in the advanced economies. The center of concern is now squarely on Europe, with a recession threatening most European countries, even those that had reasonably good performances so far. After an encouraging start in 2012, the U.S. economy, while not close to a recession, is also showing signs of a slowdown rather than the hoped for steady acceleration of growth. And the slowdown is spreading across the globe.
At a time like this it would be desirable and necessary that the G-20 show real initiative and cohesion. The essays in this collection look at the challenge from various angles. There is concern that the G-20 is losing its sense of purpose, that cohesion is decreasing rather than increasing, and that policy initiatives are reactive to events rather than proactive. Let us hope that at this moment of great difficulty, the G-20 will succeed in giving the world economy a new sense of direction and confidence. It is much needed.
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