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With the American superpower trapped between two wars abroad and economic crisis at home, the time could be ripe for a new force to assume the mantle of global leadership.
How about Bangladesh?
It's not as nutty as it sounds. Economists Vijaya Ramachandran and Enrique Rueda-Sabater propose a simple system for deciding who gets to run the world. Call it the Two Percent Doctrine: If your country has either 2 percent of the planet's people or 2 percent of the world's gross domestic product, you're in, a proud member of a committee overseeing the World Bank, United Nations and other global institutions. Congrats.
By this count, 16 countries make the cut. First up, alphabetically, is Bangladesh. Brazil and Canada are next, with the list reaching the United Kingdom and the United States. (You didn't think Obama would be off the invite list, did you?)
In a paper published by the Center for Global Development, Ramachandran and Rueda-Sabater compare their tally to the Group of 20, which will gather for its second financial summit next month in London. Mexico, Saudi Arabia and South Korea - all G20 members and U.S. allies - don't make the list. Newbies such as Nigeria and Pakistan do.
Why two percent? "You want to have all the key players there, but you also want to have a manageable number" of countries, said Ramachandran. The 2 percent threshold yields 72 percent of the planet's economy and 65 percent of its population. "That's a big chunk of the world brought to the table," she said.
In fact, they would give the rest of the world a voice by adding five rotating spots on the committee, and would recalculate the standings every few years in case anyone should be added or dropped.
So, would the world's powers ever agree to this? "That's the million-dollar question," admits Ramachandran. Still, this is a novel proposal to make global leadership more representative - even if its chances may be about 2 percent.