Stopping off in New York during a marathon, 18,000-mile diplomatic offensive before next week’s G20 summit in London next week, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown recalled a conference held in eerily similar circumstances in London 76 years ago.
Sixty-six nations gathered for the June 1933 London Monetary and Economic Conference which was aimed at lifting the world’s economy out of the Depression.
But amid American opposition to European plans to return to a system of fixed exchange rates, the conference collapsed and the world put up trade barriers, jobless ranks swelled and the rise of Fascism took the world into war.
“There was no further progress other than a resort to protectionism for the rest of that decade,” Brown told a business audience during a five-day pre-summit tour that has taken him to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, New York, Brazil and Chile.
Brown must be hoping desperately that history will not repeat itself when he hosts a meeting of leading industrial and developing economies in London on April 2 to try to chart a way out of the worst global financial crisis since the 1930s.