Protests at the Group of 20 Summit in London turned violent Wednesday, although a commanding police presence kept the skirmishes to a minimum. Demonstrators gathered outside the Bank of England to voice their dissatisfaction with the current economic state as the global economy muddles through one of the most severe recessions of the past century.
Some demonstrators broke the windows at the Royal Bank of Scotland, signaling their dissatisfaction with the bank. However, as U.S. President Barack Obama arrived at Buckingham Palace to visit Queen Elizabeth II, he was greeted with cheers, not protests.
RTTNews was at the president's arrival and noted a warm reception for the U.S. president, who has remained popular in the United Kingdom.
While there may have been some violence at the epicenter of the protests, a few blocks away it was business as usual in London. Stores were open, selling merchandise as the summit took place in other areas of London.
The majority of protestors remained nonviolent.
We are sick of spending money and killing people and saving bankers, Ronald Horne, self-proclaimed leader of the World Peace Group, told RTTNews. But we are not here to incite violence.
Horne's group apparently consisted of him and two others, and there were numerous such organizations demonstrating.
Our group will sit down at the outbreak of violence, Horned added.
There has been significant tension at the outset of the global economic meeting, with leaders from around the world gathering to discuss the best way out of the current financial crisis. However, resentment has built against the banks and other financial institutions, sparking demonstrations with themes like Financial Fools Day in honor of April 1st.
In order to control the protestors, London Police are using barriers to keep the demonstrators corralled outside the bank. In addition, the Bank Street tube station was shut down.
In order to duck some of the protests, many bankers in London traded in their pinstripe suits for jeans to avoid being the target of insults and chants. However, a group of dapper Fleet Street bankers stood amongst the protesters, almost defying them to lash out. Those bankers told RTTNews that they are refusing to dress down, donning suits in an act of defiance.
The protests represent the outrage felt by people around the world in the midst of one of the most severe global recessions in the nearly 80 years since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Much of the blame for the current downturn has been focused on those who work in the financial industry, widely considered the root of the crisis.
While at the G-20 summit, world leaders will meet as protestors rage outside and debate amongst themselves over the best way to stimulate economic growth. The United States has expressed its firm support for additional fiscal stimulus, noting the $787 billion stimulus package passed earlier this year and designed to create jobs.
However, European leaders are hesitant about pumping hundreds of billions into their economies in order to stimulate growth, noting the severe inflation risk that accompanies that strategy.
U.S. President Barack Obama and U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown held a bilateral meeting in London Wednesday. Obama also met with the presidents of China and Russia.
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.
China's president Hu Jilntao also called for sweeping reforms to be made to the world financial system as well as action to prevent trade protectionism.
The international financial system should undergo necessary reforms in an all-round, balanced, gradual and effective manner to prevent a similar crisis in the future, he was quoted as saying by the official Chinese news agency Tuesday.
Meanwhile, World Trade Organization (WTO) Chief Pascal Lamy has reminded leaders of their commitment over protectionism and urged the G-20 leaders to take a firm stand against protectionism to prevent low-intensity actions from snowballing into a major confrontation.
The WTO stated last week that there were significant slippages towards protectionism since January despite pledges made by world leaders at an earlier G20 meeting to refrain from measures that hurt trade.
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