Merkel urges global financial charter
BERLIN - Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany is calling for increased controls over the world's financial markets through a new international charter as a way to get out of the global financial crisis and prevent such events in the future.
In her weekly podcast yesterday, Merkel said economic imbalances would have to be reduced in order to prevent future risks. The chancellor called for a "charter of sustainable economic activity" that she hopes will attract broad support at a meeting today in Berlin of the heads of Europe's leading economies.
"We want to make sure that in the future there are no gaps in the world regarding financial products, market participants or instruments," Merkel said.
Among the solutions Merkel is pushing is the idea of a global "risk atlas" that would give an overview of where risks might occur, in an effort to swiftly intervene and prevent them from escalating. The chancellor said she would keep agitating for increased hedge fund regulations and improved work by ratings agencies, changes Germany had sought to bring about during its presidency of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in 2007.
In Paris, President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a strong common position from Europe, insisting that any response to the economic crisis would have to be "ambitious" and not based on "reduced compromise."
Heads of government and finance ministers from Britain, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, the Netherlands, and the current EU presidency-holder, Czech Republic, will attend today's meeting aimed at solidifying a common European position before an April summit of the Group of 20 advanced and developing nations in London.
Nearly 100,000 people marched through Dublin to protest against government cutbacks in the face of a deepening recession and bailouts for the banks. Ireland's prime minister, Brian Cowen, is under pressure from the EU and ratings agencies to trim the rising budget deficit, but plans to introduce a pension levy on public sector workers and freeze their pay has severely damaged his approval ratings.