NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It seems like yesterday that the most recent G20 was gathering in Toronto to discuss a more coordinated response by governments and central banks to deal with potential crises. That was five months ago. We're about to start a new G20 meeting, this time in Seoul, today.It's useful to remember past expectations for these meetings and their results. G20 meetings tend to be heavy on hype going in, with plenty of chances for photo-ops and analysis by talking heads. However, the crafting of the end-of-summit "declaration" starts a few hours after the leaders first sit down to talk. The final details are hammered out by underling administrators showing complete unanimity by all parties. Recall that it was expected that the Toronto summit would center on countries pressuring China to let the yuan float upwards. The night before the event started, the Chinese government announced it would be open to such flexibility. The country offered no details on how or when it would make such adjustments (although it has followed through modestly since then). The announcement was sufficient to deflect attention from the issue for the meeting. So, despite the recent rhetoric about the risk of future "currency wars" among countries trying to increase competitiveness, or the supposed anger by foreign finance ministers over the Federal Reserve's decision last week to proceed with a new program of quantitative easing, or calls for China to -- again -- raise the value of the yuan against the dollar, I expect little discussion of these issues in Seoul or in the final statement. So much of the public talking points we hear -- whether it's from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, President Barack Obama or the Chinese government -- relating to these issues is mere "political theater" meant to score points with the public back home that government officials are doing something in their people's best interest. So, rather than paying attention to these issues, it will be more interesting to monitor some of those that are less popular, but potentially significant, that don't attract attention from the folks back home and, therefore, can truly be issues where coordinated agreement can occur. I think very highly of Canadian central banker Mark Carney. A Goldman Sachs ( GS) alum, he is a straight-talker and eminently reasonable, in my view. While young and early in his tenure at the bank, he is already highly regarded by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and other central-bank peers.
A few days ago, speaking in Geneva to a group of academics, Carney put forward a list of issues he is clearly pushing for further discussion in Seoul. These included: 1. Dismissing Robert Zoellick's trial balloon of returning to some modified form of the gold standard for global currencies due to the lack of flexibility such a standard would push on central banks in the midst of a crisis. 2. Ensuring that there is adequate awareness of risk being taken on by private companies and funds such as hedge funds in order to understand the systemic interconnectedness of counter-parties. 3. Getting all over-the-counter derivatives and repos traded through a clearing house for additional government oversight of these products. 4. More coordination between various government agencies before and during crises. 5. "Contingent capital" for banks. This is perhaps the most controversial of Carney's proposals and it flies in the face of the "bank tax" concept that has been pushed by many Europeans. Under Carney's approach, banks would issue debt that could be converted into equity in the event of a future crisis. Therefore, it would be the private sector bailing themselves out rather than governments. More importantly, though, such a possibility would act as a disciplining measurement on management to act prudently when times were good -- hopefully, avoiding the kind of reckless lending and lax risk management we saw prior to 2008. Some Swiss banks have already begun to experiment with the "contingent capital" idea. The largest banks are pushing back hard against the idea of setting aside contingent capital. Following Carney's prescriptions would lead to lower bank returns. But lower returns would come with the advantage that the entire system was much safer. You'll know the G20 meetings have been a success if you read about some of these measures being adopted, but only way down the page of any article so as not to attract any significant attention.