U.S. President Barack Obama urged a concerted effort to stimulate the global economy Wednesday, following a meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown held in advance of the Group of 20 Summit. Obama called for world leaders at the G-20 to act with a sense of urgency as they look to move forward from the current economic downturn.
Obama and Brown delivered remarks following a bilateral meeting Wednesday, setting the tone for the president's first major overseas trip while in office.
The president and the prime minister focused on the renewal of the special relationship between the U.S. and the U.K., albeit in more challenging times.
Today we are renewing our special relationship for new times, Brown said at the conference. Ours is not an alliance of convenience; it is a partnership of purpose. It's a partnership that at times of challenge is resilient and at times of change is constant.
Brown added that he and Obama agreed on the significance of the G-20 meeting, noting that leaders are ready to do whatever necessary to attack the problems facing the global economy. However, Brown cautioned that there will be some tough negotiations ahead adding that the summit will not be easy.
Obama responded by stating that all leaders in London have the responsibility to act with a sense of urgency.
Both Brown and Obama focused on what Obama referred to as the human dimensions of this crisis, specifically the loss of homes, jobs, businesses, and health care.
Obama also stressed the interconnectivity of the global economy, reinforcing the notion that a full recovery within the United States is not possible without recovery abroad. Obama, who wants member-states to pump more money into programs aimed at kick-starting their respective flagging economies, is expected to present a raft of proposals, including increased oversight for hedge funds and more powers to deal with troubled financial firms deemed too big to fail.
European Union President Mirek Topolanek recently described the U.S.'s gigantic stimulus approach as a road to hell, and several other European countries asserted they couldn't afford a huge stimulus effort.
France and Germany have said that greater regulation of the financial markets is the more pressing need in the run-up to Thursday's conference of major economic powers.
The world expects that we rebuild, together, a new form of capitalism, better regulated, with a greater sense of morality and solidarity, French President Sarkozy said in a commentary released by his office Wednesday. This crisis is not the crisis of capitalism. On the contrary, it is the crisis of a system, which has drifted away from the most fundamental values of capitalism.
Obama recognized this conflict in his remarks, stating that the G-20 nations are not going to agree on every point.
However, he urged cooperation and a sense of common purpose.
History shows us that when nations fail to cooperate, when they turn away from one another, when they turn inward, the price for our people only grows, Obama said. That's how the Great Depression deepened. That's a mistake that we cannot afford to repeat.
Obama was questioned about America's role in the creation of the global crisis, specifically for the fallout of the subprime mortgage crisis. Obama responded by stating that he is less interested in identifying blame than fixing the problem.
However, looking forward he stressed that regulatory reform should be at the top of the list of tasks at the G-20 summit.
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