Obama faces tall order at G-20
November 2nd, 2011
02:39 PM ET

Obama faces tall order at G-20

(CNN) - When President Obama meets with world leaders at the G-20 later this week, keep this in mind: what happens in Europe doesn't necessarily stay in Europe. It has a rippling effect.

"The biggest headwind the American economy is facing right now is uncertainty about Europe, because it is affecting global markets," Obama told reporters in a news conference last month.

The message is one that is repeated numerous times by the president and others.

"If Europe is weak, if Europe is not growing, as our largest trading partner, that's going to have an impact on our businesses and our ability to create jobs here in the United States," Obama said last week during a meeting in the Oval Office with Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas.

Indeed, the world's most powerful political leaders are gathering this week in Cannes, France in an economic environment that is more uncertain than it has been years. Their mission: to chart a course for the global economy as the outlook for growth remains fraught with risks.

“Our goal is for there to be unanimity of purpose coming out of the G-20…and clearly Europe is a high priority right now,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday.

France and Germany have just outlined a plan to rescue Europe's debt strapped nations. At this summit, those leaders will be pressed to fill in more details and explain where they'll get all the money their plan requires. Moreover, the Europeans – and Obama - need to convince China and other emerging economic powers to back the bailout fund for debt-laden Euro nations.

"If Europe goes into a deep recession it will hit us many ways: We trade with them, but much more importantly it'll shake confidence, it will hurt our financial sector and take our very, very slow growth and push us into a recession," said Dr. Kenneth Rogoff, the former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund.

Martin Baily, a former economic adviser for President Clinton, agrees with the dire prediction. "If Europe were to have a continuing crisis or a worsening crisis, it would be very hard for the United States to avoid a double-dip recession ourselves," he said.

And a recession would not only hurt the economy. It could also wound the president politically. And he is faced with the task of promoting his latest job creation bill to wary world leaders whose confidence in America’s economic health has been shaken.

"If there's a recession, if the recession is caused by something in Europe, it's caused by something in Asia, it's caused by something here, people are not going to sort through it and sort of go, 'Well geez,' you know what I mean, they tend to blame the people in charge and put the blame [on] presidents in charge," says Democratic strategist James Carville.

But given America's economic slowdown and the political stalemate in Washington, there is only so much the United States can do. And Rogoff, who now is a professor of economics at Harvard University, believes America's influence and leadership within the G-20 has waned.

"Everyone at the G-20 wants their picture with President Obama. He is the central person everyone is looking to, but I don't think the United States can simply dictate the terms of an agreement the way it might have been able to 30 years ago."

Obama’s mission is also made more difficult with that added uncertainty following the surprise call from Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou to put the European rescue plan up for a vote in Greece. Papandreou is seeking public backing from the Greek people for last week's bailout deal, which took months to reach.

But the deal, which includes unpopular austerity measures, may now go down in defeat, a development that would theoretically force Greece to crash out of the euro and send shock waves through the global financial system.

Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Lambridinis told CNN he was confident the Greek people would vote "yes," and that they were "fanatic supporters" of Europe.

Still, the uncertain environment makes the president’s task of helping instill confidence among American and worldwide investors a tall order.

“We have a role here to play because of our experience and knowledge,” Carney also told reporters Wednesday. “And, of course, the fact that we are the largest economy in the world and we can bring to bear insight and experience in a way hat really no other nation can.”

“But there's no question that this is a problem that the Europeans need to solve and that they can solve using the resources they have at their - available to them,” he added.

- CNNMoney.com's Ben Rooney contributed to this report

Topics: President Obama • The News

soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Blacks For Obama

    If people around the world stop trying to make our president apart of their problem stuff people would get off obamas back. I getting on here everyday seeing some body say, "get him out office" or "he's dumb" no its the people who work around him that stop him from getting things done so he has to work around them, use his higher power that pisses people off to get things done. Which i think is a very smart idea and he has my vote in 2012 and i'm going to vote for people who are willing to get things done in office rather then sit around and play cards and golf every monday and friday.

    November 2, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • JS

      Read the string here. Even people who claim to agree with BO have no problems saying how screwed up America is right now. Blame who you will, but this guy has been in charge for 3 years now – he has a totally dem congress for over a year – and he, and all his supporters can only point fingers at others about how bad things are. As an independent voter let me say this, the true party of hate and pitting Americans against each other has been exposed over the past several years for what it truly is – and it isn't the repubs...

      November 3, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  2. Ann Marie

    Obama doesn't need to dictate anything. Do you not understand his foreign policy yet. He respects and looks to other power leaders of Europe. We live in another time era Baily, we don't dictate policy anymore, which is kind of refreshing.

    November 2, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Notfooled

      If that is true why do they all want to have their picture taken with President Obama? It's in the article.

      November 3, 2011 at 5:30 am |
    • Russell Brown

      The cause of america is in a great measure
      the cause of all mankind many circumstance have
      ,and will araise which are not local ,but universal and through
      which the principles of all lovesr of mankind are affected and in
      the event of which of which their affections are intersted.

      November 3, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  3. Kevin

    Heck is going to G-20 for a meeting. Ok, what can he possibly say? I know this is how I screwed up America follow me we need a change. Hey Obama shut the hel* Up.

    November 2, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • 2020

      No, no, no. At G-20, President Obama has lot to offer, he could offer exporting a bunch of tea begger congressmen for free, and throw in Beohner, Cantor, and what is that guy's name, the one who replacing medicare with voucher? China will love them most, put them in a camp for a real good work out. And, help USA to save tax payers' sweat and blood, hard earned wage. Go, here you go, President!

      November 2, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
      • Howard

        No, no, no. obama can support the free loading, malcontents throughout the world, to turn their streets into open sewers, just like he's doing with the occupiers here in the United States !!!

        November 2, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
      • jean2009

        @2020 he could even include Howard and Kevin who are clueless about who screwed up America. It sure wasn't President Obama...more like Scarecrow Bush and Dick Vader Cheney.
        Obama-Biden 2012

        November 2, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
      • Notfooled

        Medicare voucher man--Paul Ryan. He will lose his job like lots of other repubs come Nov. 2012.

        November 3, 2011 at 5:33 am |
    • Pete

      Hey Kevin,he has done more with a no nothing congress than GWB did on his best day..Ya better watch out,a lotta pink slips will be given to Repubs,trust me,they have done s...t and everyone knows it...

      November 2, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • Darryl

      @ Kevin,You had a good point in the begining. We should not tell Europe and the other G20 nothing. Now, regarding the President of the United States of America " You need to back the hell up and check your self". That the main propblem we stop respecting each other that what make kids today memic their parents The reason why the world finacial market is in a downward spiral is because the greed and corruption in the business market and Insurance companies and the overall Greed.

      November 2, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • Obama 2016

      Obama screwed up America? Really, Kevin? What will screw up America is lack of educated people who are willing to risk and innovate. Obama gave us a massive R&D credit last year. Our (Minneapolis-based IT firm) effective tax rate was way under 20%. I haven't seen that under Bush or any other president.

      Why won't you go do something productive with your life?

      November 3, 2011 at 12:06 am |
  4. teams33

    Yeah like he knows something better than others. He has ruined our economy.

    November 2, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
  5. Jerry

    This clueless president should just stay home and try and deal with our own economic and other more serious problems.

    Also, don't you dare offer more economic aid that we really can't afford. If you are going to make any offers of economic assistance, simply offer the millions that you have received from the same people you are always crucifying. Your enemies/friends, the rich that you love to hate and hate to love.

    America, remember 2012. It will be here before we realize it!

    Stay tuned...

    November 2, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • rep

      You're missing the point of the article. If Europe falters, we will follow. We don't live in a vacuum; our economy will be negatively affected too if theirs tanks.

      November 2, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • Obama 2016

      Jerry... Poor Jerry. Do you really think you can get through life successfully by complaining? What have YOU done do make this country great?

      November 3, 2011 at 12:08 am |
  6. jet

    You guys are morons. Stop spewing your idiotic talking points and starting ridiculous flame wars. To blame our current economic problems on any one person or group is oversimplistic, unrealistic and irresponsible.

    November 2, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
  7. teams33

    I agree Jerry.

    November 2, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  8. mfb

    interesting quandary. retailers like Walmart sell cheap Chinese-made goods to many Americans. those cheap Chinese-made goods have displaced many American jobs. China is the go-to country for bailout financing for the US and now Europe. so, does Obama (or any other American president) make sure China gets to keep selling the cheap goods here in order to keep the financing coming in or does the American president push the return of American manufacturing jobs to put people back to work? tough to have both.

    November 2, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  9. chris

    don't worry Obama. you won't have to explain to the G20 why you've wasted so much tax payer money on campaign contributors.

    November 2, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  10. rand

    Obama gave away America's independence....he's an idiot and now America has to answer to other nations for everything we do!!

    November 2, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
    • Russell Brown

      it has been said
      all that we are araise
      with our thoughts
      with our thoughs
      we make our world.

      November 2, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • Russell Brown

      Are you still to learn that the end and,
      perfection of our victories is to avoid the
      vices and infirmities of those
      whom we sour.

      November 2, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
  11. Handofdoom

    Obama can't dictate anything , Obama can't do nothing but one lie after the other

    November 2, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
  12. ohbommer

    He is running out ways to screw americans to make a new world order.

    November 2, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
  13. partysstink

    Obama faces a tall order no matter what he does or where hes at.

    November 2, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
  14. jcshar

    Whats the point of these G-meetings anyway? Why not use a phone?

    November 2, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  15. MTATL67

    This is where per Cain the not important foreign policy becomes important. Since we let NATO take the lead in Libya at the Frenches urging. France as a major player in EU helped us to get Merkel to aide Greece. Which helps us. Amazing how President Obama is leading by stepping back (Republicans meant as a dig) and we can't forget what a great job Sec. of State Clinton has & is doing. She will be a great President. Last President Obama's foreign policy has a much lower body count than the Republicans.

    November 3, 2011 at 12:08 am |
  16. ryan

    @Jean2009. Bush/Cheney was several years ago so QUIT blaming this on them. Obama is President now or have you been living in a cave? Solyndra and now that other company that got millions of TAX PAYER money that we will never recover after they filed for bankruptcy, and now that car company that is going to take American TAX PAYER money and go to Finland to build cars it said would be built here. He's supporting the Occupy movement who is hurting other businesses around the country (if I were a small business owner I'd fire all who participated in that and hire people who needed a job and wanted to work.) Obama has been President for a while now and the economy has not gotten any better (and don't say it the Repubs blocking his jobs bill and all that crap. There are Dems wanting the same thing Repubs are) What has he done to create jobs and better the economy? He gave billions to bail out large companies who paid their CEOs when that money should have gone to the people to spend and put back in to the economy but he doesn't think like that. So quit trying to blame everyone else but him. From all of my friend who are Dems (yes, I am a Conservative) they won't be voting for him this next election

    November 3, 2011 at 4:59 am |
  17. Gabriel

    To all of you idiots that don't understand economics you need to understand that President was facing a challenge when he got into office because you idiots voted for Bush TWICE!!!! President Obama hasn't lied nor has he "sold out America! The problem with America is that we have failed ourselves especially those people that are bitching about the economic conditions of the time! President Obama will have 4 more years and to RYAN: 4 years isn't considered "SEVERAL YEARS! The Tea Party and ignorant right wing nuts are the reason for slow progress in America!! President Obama has tried and the right wing has failed to have a solution the will save our country! If America fails it's not because of years of social injustices plagued on ALL AMERICANS because we are in a CLASS WAR with our own people!!

    November 3, 2011 at 5:25 am |
    • Boston Dawg

      Lots of slow progress in America – like increasing the country's (and our children's future) debt by 50%, unemployment at 9.1% when after taking a trillion dollars and paying back the unions for electing him it was never supposed to go above 8%, and so on and so forth......

      It is one of America's greatest ironies – the party that wants to call itself the Progressive party does whatever it can to harm those that have progressed and halt the progress of those that have no interest in progressing........

      November 2012 the house, the senate, and the white house will be taken over by the party that believes in personal responsibility, hard work, work ethic, education, faith, etc..... the party that believes in dropping out of high school at 30%, birthing children out of wedlock at 40%, 70% in the black communities, assuming that they should be taken care of based on a goal to make bad personal decisions, etc. will have no say in the government. 01.20.13 real Americans finally start to take their country back.

      November 3, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  18. Notfooled

    @ryan –Solyndra was started under Bush. If companies take their businesses overseas that's not President Obama's fault.The large companies you talk about were banks and that too was under the Bush administration. (TARP) Obama bailed out the auto industry and they have payed back their loans and are doing very well. They are hiring more people. So before you comment you should know your facts. All of my friends are Dems and they most definitely are voting for President Obama again. So I guess we will have to see who has more friends. Judging from the polls and the campaign money collected so far I like my chances.

    November 3, 2011 at 5:27 am |
    • Boston Dawg

      Solyndra was started under the Bush administration? If by "started" you mean thwarted. Chrysler paid back its loans by Obama selling a portion of the company to FIAT (notice a lot FIAT commercials on TV all of a sudden – hadn't seen one in 20 yeasrs), GM did not pay its loans back – the taxpayers are on the hook for about $20billion.... neither one of them is doing at all well, let alone quite well... it is likely that both will file for bankruptcy within the next couple of years. All of the TARP money was paid back with interest.

      Facts????????? Wow, the only fact you mentioned was that Obama has collected more money, Obama is behind people that are not even running for president in some polls......

      What a warped sense of reality.

      November 3, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • steveo


      you said" If companies take their businesses overseas that's not President Obama's fault"

      Exactly correct! The fault lies with the Congress! Neither party is addressing tax code! Neither one! What I am hearing is raise taxes, raise taxes! The time is coming when that may have to happen but FIRST:
      1. Close loop holes! GE has paid no federal taxes last year. Why? Loop holes in the current code!
      2. Cut waste and prioritize spending!

      Raising taxes should be the last resort!

      If you were a CEO and had a choice of a 35% corporate tax or 11%. What would you choose? We have the highest corporate tax rates in the world! The fault of the Congress (BOTH parties).

      November 3, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  19. Matt

    I am going to be none please when I get out, so why play games. I suggest you have me killed.

    November 5, 2011 at 1:01 am |
  20. Liz Carter in Georgia

    I concur Gabriel..good post. Thanks. @Notfooled; always a winner. Thank you!

    November 6, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
  21. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @JS; The independent voter, I can't believe you said that. 'It isn't the repubs? LOL! It is TOO the Repubs! They started right out on DAY ONE setting a strategic stage for OBAMA to fail; to make sure that he's a 'one term President'! Oh, and it's working for some hateful buffoons! You talk about HATE! Progress is slow, but if you think his supporters aren't going to defend his efforts from their finger-pointing, over-the-top blame, lies, and rhetoric, think again! That's your 'independent' opinion though!

    November 7, 2011 at 9:48 am |