Annual summits of the Group of 20 industrialized nations are important for two reasons: the topics on the agenda and the leaders who will attend.
This year’s summit will be held today and Friday in St. Petersburg, Russia. President Obama is declining to meet separately, on the sidelines of the summit, with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Obama Administration says such a meeting probably would not have yielded anything very useful. But the President is also expressing his annoyance that Russia has given at least temporary refuge to American leaker Edward Snowden.
The focus of a G-20 summit is supposed to be on global economic and financial affairs. There are plenty of such items to fill the agenda of this year’s session.
Virtually the entire world is still struggling to pull itself out of the recession that mostly started with Wall Street and its banks fooling around with sub-prime mortgages, hedge funds based on them, and other financial fun and games.
U.S. unemployment remains high and job creation low. Wages for 80 percent of Americans have remained flat for a decade. The inequality in the U.S. economy is unaddressed by its government.
Europe has similar problems and several sick countries, including Greece, Cyprus, Italy, and Spain. India’s currency is in free fall, based on what analysts call basic weakness in its economy.
Even China is slipping as the flag-bearer of sturdy economic growth. A number of Third World economies are suffering the predictable blowback of problems in the world’s economic major leagues.
Instead of global economic issues, though, G-20 attendees are likely to focus on Syria, a Middle Eastern country that exercises little real impact on the global economy — unless the major countries let Syria’s problems develop into a regional war.
The agenda of the United States in St. Petersburg should be against letting that occur, if the subject of Syria starts to dominate conversation on critical worldwide economic and financial issues.