Saturday, November 15, 2008

The temptation in times of economic stress will be to say, oh, trade isn’t worth it

Bush spoke after today’s session of the Oh God, All Our Economies Are So Totally Fucked summit.

He explained the elaborate preparations for this summit: “The first decision I had to make was who was coming to the meeting. And obviously I decided that we ought to have the G20 nations, as opposed to the G8 or the G13.” Becuz, and see if you can follow mah thinking, 20 is more than 8 or even 13, at least that’s what mah number advisers tell me.

WHAT THE WHOLE POINT WAS: “[B]ut the whole point was, was that we recognize that, on the one hand, there’s been a severe credit crisis, and on the other hand, our economies are being hit very hard.”

A COMMON UNDERSTANDING: “And so there was a common understanding that all of us should promote pro-growth economic policy.” Was there a long debate preceding this common understanding? Were there countries arguing in favor of promoting anti-growth economic policy who had to be won over?

IN OTHER WORDS: “We also talked about broader reforms -- so in other words, the discussions were focused on today and what we’re doing about it, but what are we going to do to make sure it doesn’t happen tomorrow.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “All this is an important first step -- in other words, this is a beginning of a series of meetings.”

WHAT PEOPLE SAY: “People say, well, why don’t you have one meeting and, you know, call it Bretton Woods II. Well, Bretton Woods I took two years to prepare. I don’t know what you want to call this one, but whatever name comes from this meeting, it took three weeks to prepare.” Well, that sure puts the people who wanted to call this meeting Bretton Woods II in their place. I trust they’re feeling appropriately chagrined.

WHAT IT ALSO MAKES SENSE TO SAY TO PEOPLE: “It also makes sense to say to people that there is more work to be done and there will be further meetings, sending a clear signal that a meeting is not going to solve the world’s problems.”

WHAT THE TEMPTATION IN TIMES OF ECONOMIC STRESS WILL BE TO SAY: “The temptation in times of economic stress will be to say, oh, trade isn’t worth it, let’s just throw up protective barriers.”

WHAT GEORGE HOPES IT WAS GOOD FOR THEM TO HEAR: “And I hope it was good for them to hear that even though we’re from different political parties, that I believe it’s in our country’s interest that [Obama] succeed.”

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