Is Gordon Brown Trying to Save the World or Himself?

Shall we expect a political stalemate or the largest economic rescue plan in the history of the universe next month in London? If for no one but Gordon Brown's sake, let's hope it's the latter.

It started with Mr. Brown's courtesy call to Congress on March 4. He made a rousing appeal for united global action against the downward economic spiral and hoorayed a legacy of close US-British relations when it came to scary issues. There were standing ovations for Mr. Brown in Congress, but the enthusiasm in the White House was somewhat muted.

With a burly domestic crisis on his hands, Obama has been disconcertingly nonchalant about the G-20 meeting. His campaign priority to be "strong at home" before tackling the globe's box of troubles seems to be echoing quite loudly around Washington. On top of his coolness, the Treasury's staffing woes are rumored to be a great hindrance on what the administration can handle right now.

Which brings us to the possibility of no grand plan of action devised by the G-20 nations on April 2. If this were to pass, as the Economist suggests it might it wouldn't necessarily mean economic armageddon for the world, but it would likely indicate countries are opting for protectionism over unity. And hunkering down in the global North would pack a far-reaching punch to the South. Emerging economies have been already stung by flaccid trade and descending import demand from traditionally reliable consumers like the US.

Agreement or no agreement, Mr. Brown faces elections sometime before June 2010. He was key in delivering great prosperity to the UK over the past decade, but whether he can orchestrate it for the world might be a matter outside of his control.

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