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The G20 and the three global crises: what prospects for global health?
  1. Roberto De Vogli1,
  2. David Gimeno2
  1. 1International Institute for Society and Health, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, San Antonio Regional Campus, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr De Vogli, International Institute for Society and Health, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 6BT, UK; r.devogli{at}

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The global economic crisis that started in 2007 in the USA plunged the entire world into a state of shock and is expected to significantly damage our future healthi.1 In the USA, some of the policy-makers that have contributed to the crisis by failing to adopt regulations of complex financial transactions2 such as Lawrence Summers, Timothy Geithner and Robert Rubin are now in charge of ‘cleaning up the mess’ in the Obama administration.3 So far, they have taken no serious action to re-regulate the financial system and the only concrete measure adopted has been to bail out the ‘too-big-to-fail’ collapsing banks. The bail out, used to rescue the banks, and also to pay executive bonuses,4 resulted in what Joseph Stiglitz defined as “privatising the gains, socialising the losses”.5

As the crisis moved beyond the American borders, however, a ‘global economic recovery package’ had to be developed. The leaders of the 20 largest economies of the world met last April to design it. The G20 summit was an opportunity to examine the economic causes of the crisis including failures of financial regulations, mistakes in monetary policy, global imbalances and excessive polarisation of national and international income.6 7 The G20 leaders have not addressed any of them. They came up with a series of vague pledges and the bail out of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)8 with a blank cheque of US$750 billion and no conditions attached. The IMF will be rescued by a crisis that failed to foresee or prevent, and a response …

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  • i Although some counterintuitive studies have shown that recession can be accompanied by falling mortality rates, such findings are restricted to short periods of recession and developed societies (that have welfare systems in place.) There is large evidence, on the other hand, that economic recessions are associated with increases in adult male mortality in Russia, Thailand, Mexico and Sweden, higher child mortality in Peru and Indonesia, and increased suicide rates in Japan, New Zealand, Russia and the US.1

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.