Financial crisis 'caused by white men with blue eyes'
With Brown at his side, Brazilian leader apportions blame for global recession
By Andrew Grice, Political Editor Independent
Friday, 27 March 2009
A British minister warned leaders of the world's biggest economies yesterday that they must produce more than empty rhetoric at the crucial G20 summit in London next week.
Lord Malloch-Brown, the plain-speaking Foreign Office minister who is playing a key role in the negotiations ahead of the meeting, said: "We can't again engage in meaningless, empty commitments which don't survive the flight home." Leaders risked fuelling public dissent if they did not agree on action to tackle the recession, with dire consequences for the poorest nations.
But he said Thursday's summit may not have an immediate impact. "The global economy is going to go on descending on 3 April, the massive destruction of wealth that is going on is not going to be stopped by any leaders' communique. Stock markets may be arrested and turned around but we are in for a very tough 2009 under any circumstances – including a successful G20 summit."
In Brazil, Gordon Brown continued his pre-summit tour but there was embarrassment when his host, President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, said the financial crisis was caused by "white people with blue eyes". He told a joint press conference with Mr Brown that he had never met a black banker.
"This is a crisis that was caused by people, white with blue eyes. And before the crisis they looked as if they knew everything about economics," he said. "Once again the great part of the poor in the world that were still not yet [getting] their share of development that was caused by globalisation, they were the first ones to suffer.President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, said the financial crisis was caused by "white people with blue eyes".
"Since I am not acquainted with any black bankers, I can only say that this part of humanity that is the major victim of the world crisis, these people should pay for the crisis? I cannot accept that. If the G20 becomes a meeting just to set another meeting, we'll be discredited and the crisis can deepen."
Downing Street sources suggested the controversial remarks were meant for "domestic consumption".