World Bank president: Eastern Europe must not fail (Latvia just did)
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Leaders of Europe met over the weekend in Berlin to find common ground ahead of the Group of 20 summit scheduled for early April in London. Britain's prime minister, Gordon Brown, left the meeting Sunday with a call for more backup from the International Monetary Fund: "We are proposing today ... a $500 billion IMF fund that enables the IMF not only to deal with crises when they happen but to prevent crises."
But Europe's powerhouses are struggling to come up with a common position to deal with the crisis, according to statements made to the press by Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek as he returned to Prague from the weekend meeting: "It was obvious that the four countries representing the EU in G20 (France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy) do not have the same opinion on a number of issues."
Signs of turmoil are emerging across the continent, and not just in the east. The Guardian reported Monday that British police are preparing for a "summer of rage" with victims of the downturn expected to take to the streets.
Little cushion for the world's poor
Apart from Eastern Europe, the the world's developed nations must not ignore what the crisis is doing to the poor, Zoellick said. Because of the crisis, this year upwards of 50 million people will join the ranks of those who live on less than $2 a day. These numbers are in addition to the 130 million worldwide pushed into poverty last year by skyrocketing fuel and food prices, according to estimates recently released by the World Bank.
The developing world has the same problems as Europe and North America, but few of the tools to soften the blow from the crisis. "Unlike developed countries, three-quarters of these countries cannot raise funds domestically or internationally to finance programs to curb the effects of the downturn," Zoellick said.
During April's Group of 20 summit, Zoellick said he will push for developed countries to direct 0.7 percent of economic stimulus packages to a vulnerability fund for developing countries.