Watching the G-7 meeting and the NATO summit that followed it is a dangerous moment for the global economy, probably the most intense since the financial crisis of 2008-09.
Inflation has flared up in the United States and Europe due to supply chain disruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic; a surge in consumer demand as the economy reopens; and, in recent months, the spike in food and energy prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Rapid price increases have hurt workers and families in the G7 and undermined their leaders in the polls, especially President Biden.
Despite all their calls for unity, it will be difficult for the assembled leaders to find quick and concrete ways to work together to ease this economic and political pain.
They are going to discuss investment in infrastructure and other ways to unravel global supply chains; new moves to counter China’s trade practices, which the US leadership and others have described as predatory on an international scale; and a number of issues related to inflation. But everyone fears that raising interest rates could be a prelude to a recession.
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Perhaps most urgently for Biden, leaders should discuss ways to lower global oil prices, and with them the prices of drivers at gas stations, including possible changes in how European countries try to hurt Russia’s oil export business.
Leaders are also expected to spend a lot of time discussing global agriculture and how to increase the world’s food supply as the war cuts off access to critical food sources for rich and poor countries alike. So far, the Biden administration has failed to bring Ukrainian agricultural products to the world market.
And all of this is happening at a time when Russia is doing everything it can to tighten the noose in what appears to be an attempt to bring President Volodymyr Zelensky’s country into economic collapse.