Eleven days after voters choose his successor, President Bush will meet with the leaders of the countries with the most powerful developed and developing economies in an effort to figure out what caused the global financial crisis and what they can do about it.
The White House announced Wednesday that the president would host the meeting of the Group of 20 and that the winner of the election would be welcome to attend.
The prospect of Bush running a major international meeting during the transition to a new administration, and possibly with the president-elect sitting at the table, raises questions about how much impact the Nov. 15 conference can have and whether the other leaders will be looking beyond Bush.
But the crisis is occurring now, the possibility of global recession looms, and financial markets are in turmoil. “We didn’t want the financial crisis to happen at all . . . but now that it’s happened, we can’t control the timing of it,” White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said.
Meeting with reporters in Richmond, Va., after a session with his foreign policy advisors, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama lost no time in noting that on Sept. 19 he had called “for a globally coordinated effort with our partners in the G-20 to stabilize the credit markets.”
A spokeswoman for Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee, said that he, too, endorsed the gathering.
Referring to the winner of the Nov. 4 vote, Perino told reporters: “We will look for his input after the election.”
She said the goal of the G-20 meeting would be “to start identifying what the underlying causes” of the crisis were, what progress is being made in addressing them and how to reform the global economy and its myriad parts.
But she held out little prospect that the summit, envisaged as the first of several, would produce specific measures governing international commerce.
“Everybody will come with their own ideas,” she said. “Not everybody will have the same solution.”
Several European leaders have expressed hope that the meeting will redesign the global financial order. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has for several weeks promoted a broad, far-reaching goal: to “reform the international financial system and ensure that the current crisis won’t repeat itself thanks to a better regulation.”
He has likened the effort to the 1944 conference at Bretton Woods, N.H., that built the post-World War II international economic system of (now abandoned) fixed exchange rates and led to the creation of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pushed for creating an international regulation panel to supervise the world’s top 30 banks.
Perino held out the prospect of a second summit, as part of the series of international meetings to track progress, before Bush leaves office.
The members of the Group of 20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States and the European Union.