The Group of Twenty (G-20) met at the weekend in the German port city of Hamburg. This is a grouping — with SA as the only African member — that represents two-thirds of the global population, 85% of its economic output and 80% of world trade. It has pretentious ambitions to co-ordinate the global economy, but in fact, has no secretariat or implementing committees and none of its resolutions are legally binding. G-20 summits between 2008 and 2010 focused on the global financial crisis, stressing growth, financial regulation, bail-outs and the need to avoid protectionist trade wars. Since 2010, the group has focused on green growth, energy security, finance, trade, structural reform and development. Debt has increasingly dominated debates as the euro-crisis deepened. In a bout of "euphoric planning", G-20 leaders pledged in 2014 to raise global growth by 2%, as if they wielded magic wands. In Hamburg, the grouping has again acted like European alchemists seeking to turn lead into gol...

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