President Bush joined the leaders of France and the European Commission on Saturday to announce that the U.S. will host a global summit before the end of the year to address the world's burgeoning economic crisis.
Bush, along with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is currently the president of the European Union, and Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, said the economic crises demanded immediate action. They warned nations around the world to not leap toward isolationalism.
“This is a worldwide crisis. Therefore, we must find a worldwide solution.” Sarkozy said while standing next to Bush. Isolationalism “would be catastrophe.”
The European Union pushed for the summit amid criticism from some nations that the U.S. hasn't done enough to address the crisis. Sarkozy and Barroso are expected to push Bush to embrace more regulation and control over financial markets.
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What began as a collapse on Wall Street has quickly become a worldwide problem. Since the United States introduced a $700 billion bailout earlier this month, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Switzerland have proposed bank bailouts. In Asia, South Korea's stock market has been the hardest hit, after a volatile week of trading.
The crisis has also become the most important issue to voters in the U.S. presidential campaign.
Determining who would host the conference was relatively simple. But there are other decisions still to be made: when to hold it, which nations to invite, and what actions can be taken. It is also unclear whether the American president-elect will be part of the summit.
Regardless, leaders Saturday announced an ambitious agenda.
“We need a new global financial order,” Barroso said.
The leaders made the announcement at Camp David, Md. They then went into a meeting that was expected to last three hours. But a senior administration official said no further announcements were expected because no decisions were expected to be made.
The proposed summit had been likened to the Bretton Woods summit of 1944, which led to the establishment of the International Monetary Fund and established rules for and an emerging international financial system.
That conference was held in Bretton Woods, N.H., when the U.S. was one of the last economies standing after World War II, and it was bargaining from a strong position. This time, the United States is economically vulnerable and some nations charge that its reckless economic practices spurred the current economic crisis.
Indeed, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso on Thursday called the U.S. bailout response “insufficient.” Some economic watchers fret the latest conference could weaken the United States' economic standing.
But Bush said the conference is designed to ensure the economic crisis does not happen again.
“We must welcome good ideas from around the world,” Bush said.