US out of step with partners in wealth

G7 summit: Russia joins world's top industrialised nations in Denver as they share economic troubles and parade successes

Leaders of what used to be the Group of Seven industrialised countries - but are now, with the addition of Russia, judiciously called "The Eight" - gathered for their annual summit meeting yesterday evening in the city of Denver at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Along with their teams of ministers, dozens of advisers, hundreds of lobbyists and even more journalists, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac and the others were gearing up for two days of discussions directed at airing, if not solving, major problems of the industrialised world.

The drawback is that this year the problems are less easily defined and the leaders more politically divided than for several years past. It is not only, as many analysts affirm, that today's issues blur the borderlines between politics and economics as never before and that economic "globalisation" is starting to melt the demarcation between "domestic" and "foreign".

It is that while the United States economy is booming and its leaders are determined, according to administration officials, to use the summit to pro- ject "with pride" the success of what they call the American economic model, election results in Britain and France, as well as the public mood in Germany, show that this model may not be easily replicated elsewhere.

The US may have historically low unemployment, low interest rates, a declining budget deficit, steady economic growth and a rising stock market, but the labour "flexibility" and relatively low pay that have bought these benefits remain politically unacceptable in many other countries. So even though the Americans go to Denver preening themselves that they have turned the tables on those who once lectured them about the evils of budget deficits and a too-cheap dollar, any return lectures are likely to receive a stonier reception than US representatives appear to expect.

The addition of Russia as an almost full participant this year is a further complication. This was a diplomatic gesture strongly supported by Washington as a psychological boost for Mos- cow as it negotiated the inevit-able decision to enlarge Nato. Politely accepted by the old G7, Russia's participation has none the less been accompanied by much sniping about Russia's qualifications for membership of the top countries' club. If Russia, why not India, China, Brazil, South Africa?

Partly because of Russia's participation, and partly because of the issues on the agenda, this year's summit is seen as more political than economic. The set pieces of G7 meetings - the quest for exchange rate stability and what to do about Third World debt and development - will be far less in evidence than before. Concerns have shifted.

One discussion will focus on demography and the public spending implications of ageing populations (a problem faced by several, but not all G7 countries). Another will consider the future of Hong Kong - with a strong statement anticipated about the need for China to respect Hong Kong's freedoms.

There may be discussion of the single European currency - but not to the point, as US officials stressed, where third countries would appear to be interfering. And - in a session where Bill Clinton and Tony Blair are expected to embody the new "special relationship" sealed in London - the "Summit of the Eight" will promote the idea of employability, the neat compromise that new-style left-of-centre governments have settled on as a chance to reduce welfare spending, cut unemployment and create jobs without appearing heartless.

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Popes current and former won't be watching the football together
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting