What should we make of last week's G20 meeting in Seoul? Well, before the meeting I'd been making two points. First, that we were very unlikely to see much progress on dealing with global imbalances and currency wars. But second, that it was still ridiculously premature to be writing obituaries for the G20.
I think the results from Seoul support both propositions.
So, on the first count, and as expected, there was little on dealing with global imbalances. Realistically, these kinds of disagreements are probably an inevitable consequence of the current nature of our divided world economy. It's also worth noting that things could have gone much worse than they did: at least leaders did enough to avoid a confidence-destroying collapse in discussions.
On the second count, the summit nevertheless did manage to register some achievements. So, for example, leaders endorsed the so-called Basel III regulations and gave their backing to further reforms to the IMF. That's not too shabby. (Although not everyone thinks that Basel III is on the right track).
One final point. While the brand has long been tarnished, the Washington Consensus still has a lot of name recognition — even more than the so–called Beijing Consensus that is increasingly touted as its likely replacement. It will be interesting to see if Korea's attempt to launch the Seoul Consensus manages to join them in the popular imagination.
Photo by Flickr user korea.net, used under a Creative Commons licence.