Germany and UK want global financial regulator

22.09.08 @ 09:29

  1. By Leigh Phillips

The UK and Germany believe that a new international system regulating the financial sector must be constructed to prevent a repeat of global banking crisis in the future.

  • One government alone cannot deal with the consequences of globalisation (Photo: wikipedia)

Peter Steinbrueck, Germany's Social-Democrat finance minister, raised on Sunday (21 September) the idea of "an international authority that will make the traffic rules for financial markets," while speaking to German radio, Reuters reports.

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is to outline proposals for just such a body, run under the authority of the International Monetary fund, in a speech to the Labour Party conference on Monday, as well as domestic plans to crack down on "irresponsible" bonuses handed out in the City, London's financial quarter.

"I think what people haven't appreciated is we've now got global financial systems but we've only got national regulators to cover them," Mr Brown told the BBC ahead of the speech, adding that he had been trying to convince his international counterparts for years of the need for "a global system of financial regulation."

His finance minister, Alistair Darling, according to the country's Guardian newspaper, is also set to tell his fellow Labour Party members: "Just as one government alone cannot combat global terrorism, just as one government alone cannot combat climate change, so one government alone cannot deal with the consequences of globalisation."

Mr Brown will be pressing world leaders to sign up to such a plan when he visits New York on Thursday for a meeting of the UN General Assembly.

Meanwhile, Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, has publicly chastised the US and UK for historical opposition to stronger financial regulation.

Speaking to an election rally in Austria over the weekend, Ms Merkel said: "Today we have come further because now America and Great Britain are also saying 'Yes, we need more transparency, we need better standards for rating agencies'."

The chancellor was referring to US and UK opposition to Berlin plans for greater oversight of hedge funds proposed last June at a G8 meeting.

"We played ball, we adopted a nice EU directive into national law, we had to cope with a lot of complaints from medium sized enterprises, and at the end of the day, the Americans said: we won't," the chancellor said.

In related news, the European Commission is to propose stricter conditions for banks offering credit to other financial institutions, according to draft documents first seen by the Financial Times Deutschland. Banks would now have to say if they maintain part of the risk in their own accounts when offering credit, according to proposals set to be approved by the commission on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, European banks have been lobbying hard to win support under the framework of the $700 billion bail-out of Wall Street announced on Friday by US treasury secretary Henry Paulson.

Banks such as UBS and Credit Suisse, which have significant operations in the US are likely to be eligible for part of the US Treasury's planned buy-out of bad debt held by American financial institutions.

"It's a distinction without a difference whether it's a foreign or a US one," Mr Paulson told the Fox News channel.

However, to participate in the scheme, he suggested that European taxpayers would also have to take part in bankrolling the biggest bail-out of private firms in world history: "Our system's a global one, and I also am going to be pressing colleagues around the world to design similar systems for their banks," he said.

"We are talking very aggressively with other countries around the world, and encouraging them to do similar things, and I believe a number of them will," Mr Paulson said.