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Is the EU suited to handle the crisis? April 1, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : Political economy, World politics , add a comment

Keeping up the recent days’ interest in the EU’s response to the financial crisis, I came across Megan McArdle’s comments on the apparent failure of EU states to apply enough stimulus to the economy, and points to a significant system failure within the EU system:

But as multiple people have blogged, this isn’t just a matter of the infamous tight-fistedness of Germany’s fiscal and monetary policy, born out of the ashes of Weimar; it’s genuinely harder for Europe to run a stimulative policy.  For one thing, they can’t coordinate a broad European policy, which means that any government will see substantial amount of any stimulus “leak” abroad–and also that there is great temptation to free ride.  For another, they aren’t the world reserve currency, so they can’t borrow on the same lavish, practically interest-free scale as the US Treasury.

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What are the French up to? March 31, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : Political economy, World politics , 1 comment so far

Just after writing the post on Le Maire’s speech, I came across this news story from AFP, that French president Nicolas Sarkozy is threatening to walk out on the G20 summit unless he gets his way.  According to Bloomberg, what he’s after is:

[…] to give more economic oversight power to the International Monetary Fund, and more financial oversight to an institution that would derive from the Financial Stability Forum, a group that brings together senior representatives of national financial authorities, regulators, central banks and international financial institutions.

The French leader is pushing for the G-20 to endorse accounting rules that reduce boom and bust economic cycles, and to regulate hedge funds and rating agencies. He’s calling for rules that would force banks to disclose traders pay to regulators, which could in turn ask financial institutions to increase reserves if their compensation system encourages risk taking.

The French do seem to be taking a confrontational line to get international actors to work together. This might possibly just be a display from Sarkozy’s side to show his domestic audience that he is taking action, without having to dig too deep into France’s own coffers. His moral-religious rhetoric seems to support this theory.