By Helene Cooper
The New York Times
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, Mexico
President Barack Obama and other world leaders pronounced themselves united in the effort to increase growth and employment in the global economy Tuesday but appeared to make only modest headway in persuading Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany to drop her opposition to more government spending to alleviate Europe's debt crisis.
Meeting in an effort to lift the sputtering world economy, the leaders of the Group of 20 countries eschewed specific commitments. Instead, they limited themselves to more generalized promises to invest in public works, overhaul labor markets, and use innovation, education and infrastructure investment to fuel economic growth. A more detailed plan to address Europe's crisis is expected to emerge next week after a European summit meeting in Brussels.
With his own re-election chances directly tied to the European economic crisis as it drags down growth in the United States, Obama desperately wants Merkel to loosen the reins on spending and the austerity programs that have been imposed on Greece and the other struggling eurozone economies.
The 20 countries represented agreed to take the "necessary actions" to strengthen global growth and restore confidence, and promised that the eurozone countries would work to safeguard the stability of the euro.
The leaders seemed to hint that they had, at least, brought Germany closer to the notion of a more integrated European banking system - like the U.S. FDIC - that would pay to insure deposits in the event of failing institutions.
"We support the intention to consider concrete steps toward a more integrated financial architecture, encompassing banking supervision, resolution and recapitalization, and deposit insurance," the statement said.
Merkel said during a news conference: "From the side of the European Union, we argued unanimously and collectively that we are determined to solve the crisis, and to do it in a mix of fiscal consolidation, growth initiatives, and deepening of European cooperation. That reached very attentive ears here."
But she added pointedly that a significant stimulus program, like the coordinated actions in the wake of the financial crisis, "cannot simply be repeated," and even said that Obama agreed. "The American president said, and we on the European side said, that doesn't work, the debts are too high for that."
That might be an oversimplification of the U.S. position, because Obama administration officials have spent the past year trying to point to the example of the steps that they took, including the stimulus, to jump-start the economy in 2008 and 2009.