Since its creation, the key impetus of the G20 meetings has been to get the most important leaders of the G20 in a room to decide on ways to promote economic growth and help solve the economic, political, and social issues of the time. In absence of a crisis, many of the G20 meetings will be little more than photo ops, unlikely to result in any profound policy moves. But these photo ops are still important and valuable in signalling to markets and the global community that the G20 leaders have their eye on the ball.
I am excited to have the G20 Summit held in Australia this year because I believe this provides Australia with the opportunity to intensely scrutinize its own role in the world. While Australia in many respects is a wonderful country to live in, I believe that as a wealthy, prosperous nation, we still have a lot of work to do.
Post-crisis regulatory reform efforts show that developing countries are rule takers and G7 countries are the rule makers. All this in spite of the fact that the epicentre of the international financial crisis occurred in developed countries. So why should many of the regulators and supervisors in developed countries claim to know best practices for developing countries?
It's a wonder that the heads of state and heads of government of the G20 who just met in Russia spent any time at all talking economics. Seriously, how could they pull themselves away from discussing Syria (or Sochi, or Snowden) long enough to actually focus on the international financial system? Sure, that's the explicit purpose of the G20 meetings, but still, let's give credit where credit is due.
Tax arbitrage, or moving operations and tax liabilities to low-cost jurisdictions, has been a game played by rich people and multinationals for years. But the game is ending finally. This will have implications in terms of government revenues to pay for social services but will also have a negative impact on the profits and share prices of giants such as Google, Amazon and virtually every multinational that's a household name.
In recent memory, I can think of only three serious, rock-'em-sock-'em demonstrations in Canada. It's not as though Canadians are lacking for things to protest about. It's just that our national preference (outside Quebec, at least) is to avoid conflict whenever possible. And, I suppose, we've probably become too comfortable, perhaps even lazy, about tackling issues that don't have direct or immediate implications for us.