BALI, Indonesia-–What a difference a year makes. Last May, when some 3,000-plus members of the world’s financial elite — diplomats, finance ministers, central bankers, private bankers, private-equity mavens, bond traders, and the journalists who cover them — met in Madrid for the Asian Development Bank’s 41st annual meetings, the common thread that ran through the meetings was a bitter resentment against perceived high-handed American diplomacy. The board of governors for the ADB’s 67 member countries enthusiastically approved a strategy aiming to eradicate the remaining pockets of poverty in the region by 2020, proposing to double the multilateral lending institution’s $55 billion capitalization. While some ADB members including Switzerland, Australia, and the United Kingdom expressed reservations, basically questioning where the money would come from, the United States stood out conspicuously for refusing to vote for the so-called Strategy 2020. With Uncle Sam – and particularly the unilateralist-minded President George W. Bush – it’s always “my-way-or-the-highway,”went the anti-American refrain. That was Madrid, May, 2008. Read the rest of this article »