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What's the Point of G-8?

July 8th, 2009
02:43 PM ET

LONDON, England – Leaders of the G-8 member states are gathered for their latest summit, in the Italian mountain town of L'Aquila. That much is clear. What is less certain is what they are there to discuss. 

Preparations for the meeting have been chaotic, and there is little evidence of a clear agenda. The British Guardian newspaper reports that Britain wants the meeting to address five key issues hindering recovery from the most serious global downturn since the 1930s -– a credit famine, rising unemployment, protectionism, a lack of investment and oil prices.

All well and good, but with more than 40 heads of state on the guest list, it’ll be nigh on impossible to get agreement on any one measure, let alone those defined as the most pressing by Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Growth in the west's leading industrial nations has collapsed since the banking crisis last autumn, with output dropping at an annual rate of nearly 5 percent in the UK, 8.4 percent in Japan, close to 7 percent in Germany and 2.5 percent in the U.S..

Given the precarious state of our economies, this lack of preparedness is a farce. Add to this mess the fact that the host country has blatantly failed to cough up what it promised in aid to the developing world, and it's hardly surprising that there's growing pressure from other member states to have Italy expelled from the group. 

I want to hear your thoughts. How does this G-8 summit resonate with you? What do you think the heads of the loosely-termed "leading industrialized nations" should be discussing? Does the G-8 really make sense in this day and age when these clearly aren't the most powerful economies?

We’ll use as many of your thoughts and comments as possible on Connect the World which airs at 9pm London time.

You can bank on the fact that some those attending will be watching the show, so bring it on… Leave your comments below or email me at connecttheworld@cnn.com. Don't forget to tell us where you're from!

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soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Hellen

    Dear Ms Anderson,
    please read the latest news before writing misinformation.
    The Guardian has written totally faulse news about the G8 agenda and the Italian organisation.
    Thank you for providing more profesionalism in the future.

    July 8, 2009 at 3:56 pm | Reply
  2. Riccardo

    Crisis what crisis????

    Frankly I do not believe so much of this "crisis" or downgoing economy.
    Maybe there is a crisis for the common 95% of the people, but I am sure that the top 5% (individuals and coorporations) still absorbs half or more of the world's wealth (numbers are approximate) and is not suffering any crisis at all.
    I am convinced that the main problem lies in the unequal distribution of wealth (as obviously has always been the only real problem through the ages). It doesn't make any sense that an individual person would have a fortune of 400.000.000.... How many families/small companies could work the rest of their lives if 90% this money was made available to them? And how many of those fortunes exist (legally or at some financial paradise)?

    In my opinion G-8 should start aiming for a kind of solution that makes money flow back to the society from the TOO wealthy and set a kind of rule/mechanism that nobody in any country can have a 100 times higher income than anyone else in the same country. At the same time they could strive to avoid that the national income per person of any country could get 100 times higher than of any other country.

    Close financial paridises to have full and transparant view over the money in the world. Use part of it (90%???) to flow back into society, most of it must be illegal anyway!

    No financial paridises = no more easy large scale corruption or crime = money that stays or flows back to society = more equal and fair distribution of wealth = NO "Crisis"

    July 8, 2009 at 4:18 pm | Reply
  3. Andrea

    I guess that world leaders can debate as much as they want, and create a media circus out of world issues. Regular people watch and think they've learned a thing or two about politics.

    But i's intellectuals- scientists and policy experts- that come up with the real solutions and hand them to leaders. Leaders are just the charismatic people who either won a popularity contest or led a coup and took control of countries.

    So what you really have at the G8 are people in charge who spend most of their time gauging their own popularity- who in the world could be more egotistical? It doesn't lend to solving the world's problems- but issues are generally not solved at the top. They're solved at the bottom. Whatever shallow rhetoric our leaders dish out at the G8, it can serve as a reminder to people everywhere to mobilize for change- to join grassroots groups working with intellectuals like scientists and policy experts and keep shouting about the solutions you want to see!

    July 8, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Reply
  4. Gianpaolo Tinarelli

    Title:The G8 seen by an Italian. An occasion to discuss about the italian situation.

    Dear Becky,

    I am a young Italian lawyer.

    I studied and lived in London for two years as well.

    Probably it could be useful for you and for the readers to know a little bit more about the Italian situation and its relationship with other European countries in order to answer to multiple questions regarding the G8.

    Let me reassume it in three points:

    1) The Italian political and economical crysis:
    In Italy the economic and moral crisys is evident and endless.
    At the moment there are no jobs and youngs are descouraged. Salaries ar between the lowest in Europe (I can confirm it as lawyer and as previous employee as well).
    This is due to several factors, but especially, from a political point of view, to the lack of serious, motivated and straight political power, and to the lack of a real opposition to the government.
    Nothing has been done by Berlusconi's goverment for companies and money do not circulate.
    At the same time, the other party, so called "left side", does not exist anymore and their people are absloutely armeless.
    This depends principally by the drop of ideas and motivations of Italian people.
    Italy lived for deacades over its possibilities and still now the average quality of life is not so bad.
    People is not used to have a concept of a real and unique country and they do not fight for their rights.
    Despite the fact that Berlusconi is politically inesistent, the Italian and foreigner press focuses on him with ferocity and I firmly believe that it is unfair.
    In UK and in other countries there are sexual or money scandal as well, but not all these news are publicised in the same time and manner.
    The difference consists in the Italian internal audit: we do not have teh right enforcement of laws and we are not aware, probably we do not care too, about worldwide opinion, especially when we speak about politicians.
    This is due to a lack of international knowledge.
    But Italian problems and vicious are not unique in the world,
    Many countries (or almost everyone?) have the same problems, but they are better in hidyng them.

    2) The Italian mentality:
    It is unfair to affirm that Italy can be dismissed from the G8 only for Berlusconi's scandals or because the location of the G8 has been moved form the original one.
    There is no lack of agenda as well.
    Others G8 in different countries were not better organized than this.
    Things can be changed and the principles of organization and preparation of events are not the same for all the people of the world.
    Tha Italian Government has made in this case a very sensitive sign, changing the location of the G8, in order to to throw worldwide light on
    a drammatic event.
    By personal experience, I can affirm that the Italian and in general the Mediterranean way is different from the US or UK' ones, who are countries used to prepare everything in great advance.
    Italian mentality includes changes, in the last moments as well, but the results are the same of yours,sometimes better, sometimes worst.
    italy does not lack of preparation or organization, Italy lacks of ideas and motivations of people.

    3) In the light of these considerations, it is evident that:it is true that the Italian political and economic situation is drammatic and that ithis country does not deserve, at the moment, to be in the G8.
    This can be useful for Italian people, who are intelligent and smart, to recover their interests, motivations and values, which are high standard ones.
    But, at the same time, it is fair to represent that the Italian situation is not unlinked with the Euopean and worldwide situation and probably it is time that woldwide press, especially the US and the UK one, begins to speak about italy in a different way, blaming it when it is due, giving, on the opposite, focus to the good things as well.

    Thank you for your attention.
    An affectionate reader from Italy.

    July 8, 2009 at 4:38 pm | Reply
  5. Lorenzo

    Italy is a strong member of EU.
    In your article i never saw written EU.
    EU today is the main actor in the world and the only real superpower.
    Everbody has weapons to destroy Earth but noboby has a a good economic situation like EU.EU has low debts and the biggest economy in the world.Today the real centres of power in the world is Brussels.Barroso (the President of EU) is in the US news like a shadow.I notice talking with US citizens that they are afraid of EU (the ones the have studied).Not hiding the things you can solve the problem.Usa have a huge global (private+ public)debt and they are becoming like Brazil.The difference in this crisis is done by global debts.

    Thanks.

    July 8, 2009 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  6. piero

    By and large, G-8 meetings are, indeed, pointless. For the world and its oppressed and neglected majority, that is. Not so for some of the leaders who can display their faces and their wares: Berlusconi, for example, wil l certainly draw further domestic strength from it – not because of any deal that may be brokered out of it, and that he would promptly take credit for anyway, but simply for the show value of exchanging smiles and pleasantries with the powerful of the earth.
    Pity we will get very little of substance from this particular show; because if we did, we could at least exploit the only value of these gatherings: shaming 8 governments about their broken promises a year from now.

    July 8, 2009 at 5:32 pm | Reply
  7. Miguel Ayala

    There is no Crisis in the world, there is a lack of Humanity.

    The G8 leaders, the wealthy people in the world, that 5% they dont care about you and me, they are only wondering how to buy a new yate or jet a new house or landscapes for them and their familys, the issue here is that society in the entire world is angry and there is a discontent with the political class, democracy, dictatorship are the same, the political class is not helping to solve world problems, and this is for years and years, and nothing had happen, so what can i do to change this, ask yourself what can you do from your own country, your community, your family, your person, because no body else is gonna help you, why? because there is a lack of humanity in the man and woman who lived in this our only world.

    Thanks and keep working the best you can, because this is not gonna change, not even with Obama, who is only another star in this circus, called G8 summit.

    July 8, 2009 at 5:38 pm | Reply
  8. Aleksandar

    G8 common image with the order of one person to another nerve at a distance ...

    July 8, 2009 at 8:14 pm | Reply
  9. Steve Osscar

    The G8, are only meeting they cannot solve this financial problem.Before the G 8 and Globalisation the World was finacialy okay. These are the gathering of (JOB) JUST OVER BROKE. Obama should go and solve America problem before gathering the World again.
    Thanks yours Steve Osscar.

    July 8, 2009 at 8:25 pm | Reply
  10. Itai

    clima change?
    the only climachange they talk about is the economic clima
    and the change in the clima is that the USA crashed the free western world economy and have turned into a 3.world state

    look at the guy berlusconi ... who in this world thinks that this gigolo is able to solve any problem?
    look at merkel ... the USA pupet ... she still thinks the USA will help the germans in any case and she still thinks that she is guilty because WW2 (thats why she help to rebuild the Aquila willage, because they killed 17 italians there in ww2) and in the same time berlusconi looks out for a new girl where he can waste the money instead of helping his own people
    if they wanna do a G8 they shall do it
    who ever think they are able to solve anything or that they are willing to solve anything must be a total idiot or a corrupte rich capitalist lifing on the back of the not superior tax payers

    instead of reporting about the g8 CNN would better bring cindarella by walt disney in the same time

    July 8, 2009 at 8:39 pm | Reply
  11. Kraut

    No big point, since the G 8 – in anticipation – let me already name it ' post WW II memorial summit' resembles an institution of the glorious past of those participating – specifically the outgoing 20th century from the cold war era to the breakdown of the iron curtain.
    We have to face the fact that the future will occur within a much bigger context, and already happens more elsewhere than in the G8 member countries, especially in this crisis as acrucial tipping point, perhaps exclude the US and to some extend also Russia. In fact EU Europe should only be represented by 1 voice.

    As per the future, just think of countries like Mexico, Brazil, India, Indonesia, China, South Africa and perhaps some other major uprising countries like Turkey, Egypt, Iran perhaps also Nigeria as well as numerous other Latin American, African and Asian, perhaps some Estern European countries.
    In order to cope well with the challenges lying ahead of us, we should be future oriented rather than backward. Only integrating those future heavy weights or at least promising candidates would enable sustainable policies in terms of fair environmetal, peace-keeping, food and ressources distribution as well as monetary and trade issues.
    That might be the greatest chance of this epoche – and also its greatest risk, much like 1919, when Keynes commented on the disastrous effects and economic consequences of a wronged treaty and in wise foresight resigned his mission as British negotiator.

    I have the impression Pres. Obama is nevertheless on the right track whereas some European leaders have not yet realized the end of their global predominance.

    July 8, 2009 at 8:41 pm | Reply
  12. RK

    First of all the World Leaders need to think if they have humiliated some Divine Power?

    WHO is giving the punishment, Why? If they are unable to understand that SOMEBODY has stopped the World from moving forward then they are making fool of themselves.

    You will find all clues to world crisis in
    http://www.sungod-aids.blogspot.com.
    Don't make mistake of understanding it is some kind of casual blog. It carries priceless letters, posted having no other option. To understand, one is required to read from bottom to top.

    Let the UN Sec. Gen. Ban-ki-moon know that he is altogether on wrong track. There is only one way to come out of this, or else continue with all the on going miseries and experiencing melodies of Water, Fire, Earth,Wind etc....then mysterious failures which science is unable to answer.They need to reason it out to come out of
    utter chaos.

    July 8, 2009 at 8:58 pm | Reply
  13. RK

    First of all the World Leaders need to think if they have humiliated some Divine Power?

    WHO is giving the punishment, Why? If they are unable to understand that SOMEBODY has stopped the World from moving forward then they are making fool of themselves.

    You will find all clues to world crisis in
    http://www.sungod-aids.blogspot.com.

    Don't make mistake of understanding it is some kind of casual blog. It carries priceless letters, posted having no other option. To understand, one is required to read from bottom to top.

    Let the UN Sec. Gen. Ban-ki-moon know that he is altogether on wrong track. There is only one way to come out of this, or else continue with all the on going miseries and experiencing melodies of Water, Fire, Earth,Wind etc....then mysterious failures which science is unable to answer.They need to reason it out to come out of
    utter chaos.

    July 8, 2009 at 8:58 pm | Reply
  14. giulia

    well, about the caothic situation and the disorganisation, it has been a clear "invention" from The Guardian, or maybe a misunderstood (the conference call by the american sherpas was about the G20 of Pittsburg).

    The President Barack Obama and the american sherpa Mike Froman today did their compliments to italian organisation.

    Please, try to read some more newspaper! : )

    July 8, 2009 at 10:19 pm | Reply
  15. Fabio

    The Guardian has confirmed what it wrote about Italy.

    July 8, 2009 at 10:26 pm | Reply
  16. Muthyavan.

    G8 Rich leading industrial nations has lot of important issues regarding future world peace,economic recovery and global warming to discuss in this Italian meeting. All these issues are very important and what these leaders of G8 agrees on these issues will be a step forward for all the other world nations.

    July 8, 2009 at 10:54 pm | Reply
  17. Matt

    The G8 doesn't work anymore..they cant do a thing to change global economy, not without the BRIC (except for Russia, already member of g8...).
    BRIC = Brazil, Russia*, India and China (the uprising countries).

    July 9, 2009 at 12:25 am | Reply
  18. Narayan

    Okay,
    we are reading about G8 etc; what is the REAL point here,can any of these countries have kept 2 basic items available to fill one's hunger of same cost in all G8 countries,let usa first work out such uniformity then we call G8.
    Basic meet point must be all coutries charging or prising same in its own currancy to 2 base items around the world to quench thirst/hunger.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:44 am | Reply
  19. Tochukwu

    The G8 summit should be more result oriented.I think the organisers should setup a mechanism where there will be an impact assesment of all resolutions made overtime.

    July 9, 2009 at 8:02 am | Reply
  20. Akinwale

    There are times i wonder why some countries are excluded from this list cause i know without the BRIC nations(the future) the G8 might just be a ceremonial not constructive gathering.

    July 9, 2009 at 10:02 am | Reply
  21. Mark Fraley

    The G8 is good and all the G's.But we all have to remember man cannot control what the Creator has already done ,and take credit for it. However,man is responsible to maintain it in a positive way.

    July 9, 2009 at 12:56 pm | Reply
  22. requiredreading

    The G8 (or G whatever, really) do seem to be a bit puzzling, don't they. In my mind there are a few questions that may or may not be appropriate.
    1. Is it supposed to be a G8 general summit or specifically an economic problem solving summit? I thought the ecology discussion was recently held in Copenhagen, so are they simply discussing ecological questions, because they hope this will provide a key to the economic problems they all have? Or do they not really know how to tackle the root of the economic problems?
    2. I happened to buy an International Herald Tribune today, and found an article about the American national debt (60% of GDP), which corresponds to the level of about 1954, and the budget deficit, (~ 13% of GDP), which corresponds to the level of about 1947. It made me wonder how the membership of the G8 was originally defined, because I don't really know. I assume it had to do with size of GDP. Now, is it not a bit illogical that an economy that is built on such a high level of debt and with such a deficit, would still be financially considered among the highest performers? I assume the other G8 nations are not in much better positions (nor the EU as such), but I don't know the numbers, either. In any case, it seems to me that there is need for some major redefining of positions and basic principles and priorities. Having been of the (doubtful) persuasion that possibly quantitative easing may not perform as desired, I am still wondering whether in their recurrent efforts at think-tank happenings (which is my own personal definition of these gatherings), they might still have some good ideas. Where are all the top educated economists? Where are the people who have the ins and outs of economic concepts at their fingertips? Where are Mr. Galbraith and Mr. Friedman? They have been saying that there needs to be change and that not in half a year's time but NOW since Davos. Where is it? That may sound like inappropriate criticism of leaders who are doing their best, but it leaves economic lay people like myself baffled that the educated seem no more knowledgeable than the uneducated in the field.
    3 Mr.Berlusconi's move to host the G8 at L'Aquila may be a dramatic theatrical act, but I have thought it particularly embarrassing, because while he transports conference participants in expensive electro mobiles and hands out presents to each one, he demonstrates, in effect, that his government is really completely inefficient in helping the people who are still living in tents. Not only that, but I wouldn't be surprised, if the "Yes we camp" people felt that the presence of the conference there actually demonstrated to them with unequalled audacity the contempt Mr.Berlusconi actually has for them.
    4. In the middle of the said chaos of where and what the conference is about, and the reported decisions they made on climate change (nothing against climate change, I just wasn't aware that this was a climate conference...), I don't blame President Hu Jintao's exit with the excuse that he had better things to do.
    5. I hope they had occasion to enjoy Italy in July, with food and wine and the appropriate temperatures. I admit that the presence there is an injection of capital to an area that needs it, just because they need to eat and sleep.

    July 9, 2009 at 1:02 pm | Reply
  23. Matteo

    Mr Anderson – I understand you are writing your article from London ( or perhaps from the moon ?). Shouldn't you be at L'aquila to make such statements ?

    July 9, 2009 at 1:11 pm | Reply
  24. Hellen

    a comment on today article about G8

    Please note that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi IS NOT being investigated over allegations that he paid for sex.
    Before writing such big mistakes, try to consider reading newspapers with proven credibility (i.e., do not paste & copy from La Repubblica or L'Espresso).

    July 9, 2009 at 1:20 pm | Reply
  25. Yogendra

    I was wondering why this summit is being held in Italy. I was surprised to learn that Italy is a member of G-8 nations.
    As of today, I agree that most of these economies are not as powerful as the developing economies like China, India etc.
    To me, generating jobs and recovering the state of economies should be the most important agenda than any thing else as of now.

    July 9, 2009 at 2:48 pm | Reply
  26. Ryan

    Sentiment appears to be overwhelming negative regarding the G-8. Using the sentiment analysis tool on newssift.com: http://tinyurl.com/pnnudf , it appears that based on the news regarding the G-8 that is tracked in the newssift search engine, 40% of it is negative, 17% is positive, and 43% is neutral in connotation. Just some food for thought.

    July 9, 2009 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  27. Bobby

    Picture shows only G-6 .What about the others G-2. Do they belong to third world countries or hidden because they are the hidden powers.

    July 9, 2009 at 3:42 pm | Reply
  28. Itai

    the world should let all this impotente leaders talk and drink coffee... and organzie it self without this comedians

    they work for them self on the back of us people around the world

    we all should take the power away from them by leting them talk and ignore theyr nonsence

    we all would be richer without these capitalists
    maybe not richer in money
    but richer in being humans

    July 9, 2009 at 3:47 pm | Reply
  29. Cody

    I dont really know much about G8 but if Hellen wants to make ms anderson feel stupid maybe she should learn how to spell.
    Thank you for getting an education Hellen.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:02 pm | Reply
  30. Rida

    I love youu Becky soooo much!!

    Rida
    Pakistan

    July 10, 2009 at 5:32 am | Reply
  31. George

    I agree with Riccardo (second comment from the top) that the terrible maldistribution of wealth must be corrected before any appreciable social improvements can be attained.

    July 10, 2009 at 6:04 am | Reply
  32. Hellen

    Cody

    I don't want to make Ms Anderson feel stupid.
    She needs to write thins as they ARE. And I don't need an education for that: the journalist is not me.

    July 10, 2009 at 9:56 am | Reply
  33. Martha Sim, Rio de Janeiro

    "...The first half of the twenty-first century will, I believe, be far more difficult, more unsettling, and yet more open than anything we have know in the twentieth century. I say this on three premises... the first is that historical systems, like all systems, have finite lives. They have beginnings, a long development, and finally, as they move far from equilibrium and reach points of bifurcation, a demise. The second premise is that two things are true at these points of bifurcation: small inputs have large outputs (as opposed to times of the normal development of a system, when large inputs have small outputs); and the outcome of such bifurcations is inherently indeterminate.
    The third premise is that the modern world-system, as a historical system, has entered into a terminal crisis and is unlikely to exist in fifty years..." Immanuel Wallerstein, (The End Of The World As We Know It)

    The world has changed so much that it makes no sense to treat it the same way.

    July 11, 2009 at 3:10 am | Reply
  34. Dr. C

    The G8 summits are nothing but a country club gathering of old folks who like to pose for pics and look important with no clear agenda. The Saudi King always looks miserable in the pics because he just wants to write a check to someone and leave. The only people who are really excited are Berlusconi the clown and Priminister Brown of the UK. Nothing comes out of the G8 just alot of protest and damage to local businesses. ABOLISH THE G8 summit and do something more productive with all these heads of state.

    July 12, 2009 at 9:37 pm | Reply
  35. Yasmeen

    Becky, Keep up the good work . . . you are grrreat!

    July 15, 2009 at 8:53 pm | Reply
  36. ken in Japan

    Do you know what G-5 and 8 meeting means? It is not a global conference. It is a glocalized seminor that is supposed to have a discussion for what they can do for the world ,not for what they can benefit from the other countries.I really do not understand why they need to heve a face-to-face meeting to talk about how to help povertiy countiries over 7day-sumptious dinner and excursion. They can talk each other over the INTERNET. The countries, which can not participate the meeting ,always watch what you do.

    July 16, 2009 at 1:27 pm | Reply
  37. Ken Sanders, Vancouver, Canada

    It's mostly a symbolic show because these elected people are not the ones who really run things. The ones who call all the shots are the bankers who recognize no borders. Those who control the money are the ones who rule. Until the Central Banking System is abolished we will not see any changes in the status quo. Economics is the biggest of all the con jobs. Thank you.

    July 17, 2009 at 6:29 pm | Reply

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