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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent