Wednesday, August 26, 2009

20 Facts about the G-20 Summit

Good day Pittsburghers! That phrase has 20 letters and starts with G. Hmm... know what else is made up of 20 characters and starts with G?? OH!! The G-20! For some unknown reason, the Group of 20 (or G-20) is hosting their annual summit here in Pittsburgh, PA. Like many Pittsburghers, I was coming down from my Super Bowl/Stanley Cup Championship high when I got word that the city would again be in the national press. But I couldn't conceal my WTF-esque attitude toward this new, much more political "win" of ours. Smiles on the faces of city officials hinted to me that this was, in fact, a good thing; but my ignorance on the meaning of G-20 led me to just shun the news all together. Until now... Now that I'm hearing about protests and university closings, and secret service I'm beginning to grow intrigued. Hence, a blog to enlighten us all on the what's what of this surprise summit that we've been so blessed to host this year.

20 facts about the G-20

1. G-20 was initiated in 1999 as an attempted solution to the financial and economical inconsistencies that exist between the global financial leaders (Luxembourg, US, UK, etc.) as well as developing economies. The goal was to collect the financial ministers from 19 countries (and European Central Bank) into a forum that promotes constructive exchange of information. Clever.

2. Discussion topics may include (but are not limited to): crisis-control, combating terrorist financing, reducing abuse of the financial system, estimating the girth of Sidney Crosby's thighs, etc.

3. The organization is led by rotating chair positions. 2009 is chaired by the United Kingdom. Cheeky.

4. The United States has not been offered the chair position yet. Perhaps it's because of our failed economy, I don't know?

5. The G-20 is not to be confused with the G-7, G-22, or G-33. They are separate associations that all just happen to do the same thing.

6. It's been reported that President Obama suggested hosting the summit in Pittsburgh to highlight the city's continuing financial recovery... Is that really your reason, Obama??

7. For the last meeting in London, the Metropolitan Police, the City of London Police and the British Transport Police, as well as over 3,000 extra police officers were called into action to control protest riots.

8. Pittsburgh can handle it.

9. This will be the first "green" political summit, thanks to the David L. Lawrence convention center which is the first certified and largest green convention center in the world.

10. Other venues for the convention are scheduled at Phipps conservatory, the Andy Warhol museum (?? haha), CAPA - Creative and Performing Arts high school, and Rosemont Farm - Teresa Heinz's place.

11. PITT chancellor, Mark Nordenberg, was not invited to attend the summit, despite his damnedest efforts.

12. Protests generally arise from public anger over recession, bankers' pay, loss of jobs, and capitalist mentality. Some people just throw stones over group think. I, personally, think violent acts of protest are neanderthalic and malproductive (both made up words).

13. The G-20 divides into two camps: the trade surplus nations and the trade deficit nations. Both camps agree that global trade imbalances lie at the root of the economic collapse. They encourage increased domestic consumption from countries like China that rely heavily on exports.

14. G-20 MVP may be a tie: some say Brazil with its rising financial status and hotshot President Lula, but others say China because of the ball-vice they have on the US debt. Think Vito vs. Michael Corleone circa Godfather II.

15. Obama's secret service codename is "Renegade". Coincidence that that's the Steeler's fight song??? I THINK NOT!

16. Duquesne, Robert Morris, Point Park, CMU, CCAC all closed for the G-20. University of Pittsburgh is holding strong.

17. Protesters allegedly plan to throw water balloons filled with decomposed roadkill juice, urine, and feces (ok, this may not be a fact - my nasty friend told me this)

18. Dinners will include Primanti's sammiches, pierogies, n'at warshed dahn wit dat der Ahrn City.

19. An event will be held on Sept. 18 at Carnegie Music Hall called: "Challenges for G-20: Is the City of Champions the Black and Gold Standard for Recovery". Sounds pretty sweet.

20. The meeting promises to end with nothing exciting.

Overall, I think that the G-20 is an excellent idea - after all many economic mistakes arise from poor communication. All this jibber jabber about Pittsburgh being a success story of financial regrowth is a bit of a stretch to me, though. NOT because Pittsburgh isn't a success story, NO I BELIEVE IT VERY MUCH IS, however, I don't think it owes its success to a government recovery plan. I think Pittsburgh thrives because of its hard-working, down-and-dirty locals (and the UPMC); and if Obama is looking to make a business plan to translate to other fallen blue-collar economies (like Detroit), it won't be easy.

Further reading:
Official Pittsburgh G-20 site

Action plan from 2008 meeting in Washington

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