You've got to hand it Wolfgang Schaeuble. Not only is the German finance minister seemingly as tough as granite, just ask Greece's fiery Yanis Varoufakis, but he also knows how to try and cut through some of the nonsense that often accompanies international leaders' gatherings.
As a veteran of a quite a few underwhelming "G" meetings that have promised so much and delivered so little, I have to say it's hard to rev up the audience's excitement coming into this week's G-7 finance ministers meeting in Dresden, Germany. Too many times in the decade I've been attending G's 7, 8 and 20 where the same twin issues have been the outcome.
With the honorable exception of the 2009 G-20 gatherings in London and Pittsburgh, which pulled the world back from the brink of imminent financial crisis, global leaders seem to issue communiques which offer way more than can be achieved or, just as worse, offer nothing at all apart from bland platitudes.
The February G-20 finance ministers meet in Istanbul was a great case in point. Nothing was achieved, nothing substantial got into the final communique and, if anything, the lofty goals of the previous Australian G-20 Presidency became more distant.
However, Germany has made a good start it appears by saying there will be no communique on Friday. Shock, horror, I hear you cry. How will we all survive? If true, then it is a blessing for everyone. For a start it means no running around among the central bankers and ministers until something as substantial as dish water emerges.
It also means we may -- and it's fingers crossed here -- not get the usual gumpf about non-currency wars and non-manipulation, which often sneaks into the final release. Remember the G-20 finance ministers meeting in Moscow 2013 when certain countries wanted to accuse another country, which may or may not be Japan but I couldn't possibly comment, of moving its currency around too much to stimulate growth? Say no more because no-one there did. Trust me, I failed dismally to get any overt Japanese criticism on the record.
Anyway back to Schaeuble. There was great op-ed article in the New York Times coming into this meeting where he lays into the "myths" surrounding Germany and its approach to the financial crisis. In true Ben Stokes fashion (and if you are not an England cricket fan and don't know Ben Stokes then Google it), he hits the critics of Germany into Row Z of the stands.
In short he attacks those say Germany should have spent more, been less austere and has been a major beneficiary of this crisis. Most bluntly in the NYT piece, the German Finance Minister spells out his G-7 priorities of which, and I quote, "Stimulus -both focal and monetary policy- is not part of the plan".
One more smart move from Schaeuble is to invite likes of Nouriel Roubini, Robert Shiller, Kenneth Rogoff and Larry Summers. A whole host of celebrated academics will be in Saxony for the meeting. Officially to share ideas but if they become part of the process on the inside then maybe some of the academic sniping at the G-7 may be dented somewhat.
In short, Schaeuble has gone on the offensive ahead of the Dresden gathering and already cut through both detractors and niceties. Let's hope I can say the same come Friday evening.