The Group of 20 (G-20) is a reliable barometer of developments in the wider global economy. The just-concluded G-20 Leaders' Summit in Buenos Aires registered the sobering need for the world to prepare for tough times ahead. The state of financial markets, trade tensions among key economic players, and the challenge of making structural changes in economies are some of the areas in which global resilience will be tested. The summit, which was born a decade ago in a move to stop the global financial crisis from worsening, could have done more to recognise, in its joint statement, the dangers of siren calls for protectionism as a policy response to emerging trade disputes. Nevertheless, the meeting provided leaders of the world's 20 largest economies with an opportunity to take stock of common problems which, if left unattended, could provide the recipe for the next system-wide crisis. There is no guarantee as yet that the problems will be addressed coherently, consistently and on time. However, the urgency of the situation is clear.
It is against this backdrop that Singaporeans will need to get accustomed to these points of inflection as the cost of surviving on a global marketplace where they are price-takers. Singapore's approach to the public well-being reflects the adage that no one owes the country a living. In that spirit, Singapore has globalised itself to increase the chances of its survival. It is not a member of the G-20, but its economic interests are tied closely to the sustainability of the global system represented by movers and shakers in the grouping. The country's domestic policies, its emphasis on fiscal probity, for example, exemplify the need for best practices that maximise its global possibilities. Yet, unlike international imperatives that bear on Singapore, the country is unable to make its needs deflect the workings of the world. It has to adjust itself to unpredictable developments.