Gullible 20: How Argentina is making a mockery of the G20

Argentinian leaders have illustrated that a G20 nation can remain as such while continuing as a the epitome of reckless behaviour. Something needs to change

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"Just keep smiling..."
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The Commentator
On 19 June 2012 14:32

Picture the scene. Emissaries from the world’s top economies are gathering in smoke-filled non-smoking rooms, debating the merits of the new command economics that dominates Europe, the Americas, Russia, China and beyond.

In a corner at the back of the room, away from the decision-making roundtable, sits the Spanish observer, watching nervously as G20 discusses the budgetary travails of the latest Euro-bailout beneficiary victim.

Meanwhile, the British representative ogles suspiciously, from the corner of his eye, the Argentinian envoy, who seems to be encroaching further and further into his personal space. The Brit, uncomfortably, nudges the American to his right, nodding his head in the way of the Argentinian lady. Suddenly, the rest of the table perks up. The delegates from the other 17 nations spy the Argentinian and begin to mutter amongst them.

“It is ridiculous. They breach the World Bank rulings on debt and they are still allowed in here?” says the Canadian in the room.

“They have less legitimacy than we do!” says the European Union rep.

“Yes – and they nationalised a Spanish company and nothing has been done!” exclaims the Spanish representative from the back of the room, realising he has spoken out of his ‘observer status’ turn. He lowers his gaze and continues ‘observing’.

This is the bizarro world in which the young G20 group operates. One where a nation widely considered to be cooking the books economically, rescinding freedoms, nationalising other nations’ companies and remaining immovable on its international debts can assume a serious role around a supposedly serious table.

While the group is still frequented by many legitimate members, the lack of admissions criteria is beginning to make a mockery of this institution. A recent study by the US based National Taxpayers’ Union established that Argentina and Indonesia fall short of the stated policy objectives of the G20, measuring a nation’s economic size and global importance, its adherence to the rule of law and principles consistent with market-based economics and the scope of its financial interconnectedness with other nations. You can read more about the report at the Wall Street Journal.

So as Spain frets about its economic circumstances, a smug Argentina grins at the decision-making table, content with having deceived and manipulated markets to cement its G20 place. Is it any wonder countries like Greece fail to reform when they can just look to Argentina? Many economic commentators have even gone as far as suggesting the Argentinian model to the Greeks. Presumably this involves receiving international aid, forgoing international debts and absolving oneself of international settlement obligations.

Having Argentina present at a summit discussing fiscal integrity is akin to having Barack Obama lecture you on the intricacies of the US constitution... oh wait. Argentinian leaders have illustrated that a G20 nation can continue as the epitome of reckless behavior, showing disregard for the rule of law and debt obligations.

Furthermore, the British government's timidity on this topic is deeply concerning given that the United States has already taken action and voted against more World Bank loans to Argentina.

When G20 meets again in Russia in 12 months, it is quite clear that the group should either be  called the G19, or countries that fall foul of key criteria should be replaced by those who play by the rules.

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