Club for Growth

Here’s a question: how big can the G-8 be without becoming unweildy?

China should clearly be in the G-8, given the enormous role it plays in international trade. India should probably be in as well, because while it isn’t in China’s league yet, it’s already more important than members like Canada and Italy. Arguably, so should Saudi Arabia, because of its outsized influence on the pricing of a key commodity. Other countries that might deserve inclusion because of the size of their economies and their value to international trade include Brazil, Spain and South Korea. Then there are the countries that aren’t yet in the same league, but might be before too long, and whose inclusion might provide more . . . diversity: Turkey, Mexico, South Africa.

Including all of the above countries, you’d have a G-17, more than twice the size of the current group:

Saudi Arabia
South Africa
South Korea

At that size, it’s hard to picture the group functioning effectively, isn’t it? But once you say you want to let in China and India (the two gimmes from the list), don’t you have to at least consider other candidates? If you didn’t want the group to get too big, wouldn’t you need some mechanism for throwing countries out if they didn’t make the cut? And who is going to be willing to take the heat for throwing out Italy?

This is why, more often than not, instead of reforming the old institutions you wind up building new ones to supplement them. Slowly the real action moves from the old institution to the new one, but nobody gets insulted and no sinecures get eliminated.