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G-20 Economic Summit Preview: Will the U.S. Lead, Follow or Stay on the Sidelines?

On April 2, leaders of the world's twenty largest economies will meet in London to work to restore stability, confidence and craft a path forward for the world's financial system. This meeting represents a prime opportunity for President Obama to demonstrate that he understands what is at stake globally in this financial crisis. Can Obama translate his popularity into a new US relationship with the world? Will the US approach this summit with a willingness to take a realistic approach to global financial issues and their root causes? Will the US work cooperatively with others in taking action to tackle those issues and simultaneously re-assert leadership in crafting solutions? Or will the April meeting result in more talk, financial protectionism and a further shift of global intellectual and ideological direction away from the US and towards the European Union, Asia -- or elsewhere? In either case, it is likely that significant structural changes to the global financial system will be proposed, discussed and debated. The big question is whether the Obama administration recognizes how fragile the US seat at the head of the world's financial table has become and re-asserts US leadership on the way forward. If not, the next G-20 meeting could deteriorate into a "G-19 plus one".
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