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Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said political leaders are discussing the idea of closing the world's financial markets while they ``rewrite the rules of international finance.'' ``The idea of suspending the markets for the time it takes to rewrite the rules is being discussed,'' Berlusconi said today after a Cabinet meeting in Naples, Italy. A solution to the financial crisis ``can't just be for one country, or even just for Europe, but global.''
Group of Seven finance ministers and central bankers are meeting in Washington today, and will stay in town for the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings this weekend. European Union leaders may gather in Paris on Oct. 12, three days before a scheduled summit in Brussels, Berlusconi said today, while Group of Eight leaders may hold a meeting on the crisis ``in coming days,'' he said. Berlusconi didn't give any details about what kind of rules leaders were looking to change, except to say that leaders are ``talking about a new Bretton Woods.''
Red Alert: The G-7 -- Geopolitics, Politics and the Financial Crisis (Open Access)
The finance ministers of the G-7 countries are meeting in Washington. The first announcements on the meetings will come this weekend. It is not too extreme to say that the outcome of these meetings could redefine how the financial markets work, certainly for months and perhaps for a generation. The Americans are arguing that the regime of intervention and bailouts be allowed to continue. Others, like the British, are arguing for what in effect would be the nationalization of financial markets on a global scale. It is not clear what will be decided, but it is clear that this meeting matters…
The meetings will extend through the weekend to include members of the G-20 countries, which together account for about 90 percent of the global economy. This meeting was called because previous steps have not freed up lending between financial institutions, and the financial problem has increasingly become an economic one, affecting production and consumption in the global economy. The political leadership of these countries is under extreme pressure from the public to do something to solve — or at least alleviate — the problem.
Underlying this political pressure is a sense that the financial class, people who run global financial institutions, have failed to behave responsibly and effectively, and have therefore lost their legitimacy. The expectation, reasonable or not, is that the political system will now supplant these managers and impose at least a temporary solution. The finance ministers therefore have a political mandate, almost global in scope, to act decisively. The question is what they will do?
That question then divides further into two parts. The first is whether they will try to craft a single, global, integrated solution. The second is the degree to which they will take control of the financial system — and inter-financial institution lending in particular. (A primary reason for the credit crunch is that banks are currently afraid to lend — even to each other.) Thus far, attempts at solutions on the whole have been national rather than international. In addition, they have been built around incentivizing certain action and increasing the available money in the system...
"We must convince our American friends of the necessity of an international summit to review the international financial system," said Sarkozy.