Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
Today’s European edition of the International Herald Tribune is fronted by a photo montage of the presidents of Senegal, Afghanistan, Bolivia, Argentina, France and Brazil.
They have two things in common – all are attending this week’s United Nations General Assembly in New York and all see a global threat from the financial crisis that began on Wall Street and, in the words of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the Philippines, has moved “like a terrible tsunami around the globe”.
Some of the strongest words were directed at Washington lawmakers, Wall Street speculators and market regulators.
While markets plunged in Russia and Turkey, the emerging markets of central Europe saw only muted reaction (some of their currencies are actually up on the year) largely because their EU status guarantees them access to easy money from the bloc.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel sent a clear “I told you so!” to the United States and Britain at the weekend, criticising them in unusually frank terms for resisting measures that might have contained the current financial crisis. The conservative leader of Europe’s largest economy reminded her partners that she had pushed for steps to boost the transparency of hedge funds during Germany’s presidency of the Group of Eight last year. ”We got things moving, but we didn’t get enough support, especially in the United States and Britain,” she told the Muenchner Merkur newspaper. Merkel expanded on her point in a speech in Austria, suggesting that both Washington and London were only now coming around to her view.
“It was said for a long time ‘Let the markets take care of themselves’ and that there is ‘no need for more transparency’…Today we are a step further because even America and Britain are saying ‘Yes, we need more transparency, we need better standards for the ratings agencies’.
I’d almost forgotten he was there, in my home. Then came the global economic crisis with its visions of apocalypse, and he caught my eye again, this fiery orator, this ruthless revolutionary killer, the scourge of global capitalism.
His is the first face — hornrimmed glasses, goatee beard — guests might see as I usher them into my living room. My treasured, framed photograph of Lev Davidovich Trotsky
posing like some uneasy tourist, cap in hand, before a spreading palm tree in Sochi, commands pride of place. Not that I admire the man.
Depending on where you stand, the financial crisis has been catastrophic or brought a much needed shake out in the financial sector; it has been disastrous for home owners or proved the folly of lending to people with poor credit histories; it has rightly rolled back the clock on naked capitalism or undermined a system that, in essence, functions perfectly well; it has punished bankers’ hubris or thrown many talented individuals out of work.
What you see depends on where you stand.
According to Italy’s economy minister, Giulio Tremonti, the current economic crisis was the inevitable consequence of policies championed by former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan.