Thursday, April 02, 2009

G20 Watch: Merkel Gets More Oversight.

From Der Speigel (h/t matttbastard):

On Wednesday, eyebrows were raised when German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy went before the press to demand in no uncertain terms that the G-20 do more to strengthen regulation of global financial markets. On Thursday, the two leaders appeared to be getting everything they asked for...

Now, the G-20 has agreed to the creation of blacklists of tax havens in addition to measures to tighten rules pertaining to hedge funds and credit rating agencies. An oversight body will also be created...

In addition to the increased regulation, the G-20 leaders agreed to pump $1 trillion into the global economy, to be distributed through the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank...

Prior to the summit, a split appeared to develop between the Anglo-American approach, which emphasized economic stimulus measures, and the continental European approach, which demanded tight financial regulation. US President Barack Obama, eager to avoid dissent at his first foray onto the world diplomatic stage, said on Wednesday that the differences had been "vastly overstated."

So why am I quoting all this? Because I find it interesting that the "conservative" leaders of France and Germany are the ones pushing for heavy-handed regulation, while the "liberal" leaders like New Labor's Gordon Brown and our own Barack Obama were not so much in favor.

It strikes me, in reference to all the Shock Doctrine talk lately, that once again I want to poke at the definition of conservative. People are surprised that conservative leaders are pro-regulation, but like I've said several times in Shock Doctrine posts, Friedmanite capitalism was not at all conservative. It was radical, shocking.

For Sarkozy to call for giving capitalism a conscience--well, it underlines the difference between French conservatism and American, but it also points out that state regulation and control over capital markets is not actually a shocking, strange idea, and that the rapid deregulation was actually the revolutionary idea.