For all the pageantry, the G-20 meeting did very little. Its
greatest achievement was papering over the cracks in world economic policy, in
particular the gap between the unrepentantly spendthrift USA and UK on the one
hand, and more prudent nations, that is most of the rest of the world, on the
However, to that extent, G-20 was a success. Politics is
largely about perceptions – and so is economics – and the markets liked the
display of unity and purpose. Loss of confidence helped get us into this mess
and restoration of confidence will help get us out.
Anyway, G-20 was never going to “fix” the world economy. Government
action alone cannot do that.
Yet the governments missed a golden opportunity to do what
this blog has been advocating all along: unleash the power of free enterprise.
Imagine – and all we can do is imagine – if they had agreed
a co-ordinated strategy:
1 To postpone the
collection of all business taxes by six months;
2 To postpone the
deadlines for all official paperwork by six months; and
3 To exempt all new
jobs from employment regulation, apart from those health and safety rules which
really are necessary, for six months.
Imagine the tidal wave of business activity that would
Most of us have a number of business ideas at the back of
our minds. We are put off by the risk versus reward calculation, or by the
sheer hassle of starting a new business these days.
Imagine if we were suddenly allowed to keep more of the
rewards for taking risks, and if the hassle factor was suddenly reduced
dramatically: we would all rush to take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity – especially if it was open for a limited period only. We would
hustle like we never hustled before. Somehow, we would get the money and we
The recession would be over in a matter of weeks – possibly