Letter from 28 Civil Society Groups to Obama on the April 2009 G20 Summit

By Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch

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Dear President Obama: In your January address to the joint session of Congress, you told the nation: “As we stand at this crossroads of history, the eyes of all people in all nations are once again upon us – watching to see what we do with this moment; waiting for us to lead.” The April G-20 Summit will be a critical test of whether the United States can inspire the governments of the other major economies to join together to counter the deepening downturn, and to begin the vital work of creating a global economy that delivers a future of widely shared economic prosperity and security at home and abroad.

The devastation caused by the global economic crisis to the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people here and abroad is not merely the result of bad practices by large financial firms. Rather, it represents the catastrophic failure of domestic and global economic policies and governance focused on eliminating the government regulation and oversight that are necessary to ensure markets operate in a stable and productive manner.

Contrary to press reports that the crisis has ended the era of market fundamentalism, in fact many of the core “neoliberal” policies remain in place in the agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and in the policies of international agencies, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Changes to these institutions and agreements are essential to ensure that the world’s governments have the policy space necessary to stimulate their economies and to establish effective new financial service regulation on the domestic and international levels.