Gordon Brown urges global ‘grand bargain’

BRITAIN BROWN

Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown gestures during his monthly news conference at 10 Downing Street in London, Wednesday Feb. 18, 2009. After meeting with World Bank head Robert Zoellick and IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Khan to plan the G-20 summit, Brown said that the world needed to work together to improve global financial regulation to prevent a repeat of the current financial crisis. The meeting of the Group of 20 advanced and developing nations on April 9 is seen as critical in developing an international response to the current crisis. AP Photo by Kieran Doherty

BBC | Feb 18, 2009

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said world leaders are working towards a “global deal and grand bargain” to deal with the economic downturn.

He told his monthly press conference that the whole world had to preserve “an open economy”, rather than move towards protectionism.

Leaders were working together to help “working families”, he added.

Mr Brown was speaking after talks with International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

The government has launched a document outlining its policies and aims in the run-up to the G20 economic summit in London in April.

‘Taken the lead’

Mr Brown will be meeting leaders including German chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi during the next few days.

He said: “I think we are fashioning for the future a global deal and grand bargain where each continent fulfils its responsibilities and its obligations and act to deal with what is a global problem.”

He added: “Most people looking at Britain say we have taken the lead in the measures to prevent a global collapse.”

On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama signed a $787bn economic stimulus package.

Several other countries have programmes in place.

Mr Brown said: “America has just announced the biggest fiscal and monetary stimulus in the history of its country.

“Every part of the world must be part of the stimulus to the economy, giving support into the economy with investment, getting interest rates down as much as possible, and I believe one of the features of our discussions at the G20 summit on 2 April is how all countries can come together to do that.

“Some may have to do more on interest rates; some may have to do more fiscal stimulus. The whole point of the G20 is that the world must take action to deal with a global problem.”

He added: “The old orthodoxies will not serve us well in the future. We’ve got to think the previously unthinkable. We’ve got to do what was previously undoable.

“The co-operation that’s needed around the world is not something that has been achieved before – but I believe it can be achieved to meet the needs of our times.”

Following recent criticisms of the role of the Financial Services Authority in regulating UK banks, Mr Brown said: “I’m right, I think, to emphasise the international nature of the problem.”

He also said the “biggest failure” was on a global level, but added: “Of course I accept there need to be changes in the UK system.”

Brown ‘regret’

The prime minister brushed aside the suggestion that he was tempted to step down to become the “world’s financial regulator”.

He said: “There is no possibility anyway of a job called Global Financial Regulator. I want get on with the job I’m doing.

“My priority is to help people in this country who are facing problems with their mortgages, problems with their jobs and problems with small business finance.”

But Mr Brown also spoke of his “regret” that he failed over the years to win support for changes to the international system of regulation in banking.

He said there had been a need for such reform for some time — especially as banks had become more global – sometimes working in dozens of different countries, where there’s different supervision.

“My regret is that I failed over these years to persuade people – with sufficient force – that our proposals should have been implemented after the Asian crisis. And I tried to persuade the other countries that this was an important issue.

“But, once the Asian crisis had gone, people’s attention was on other things. And, then of course we had all the other issues at the beginning of the century related to terrorism. So, it’s hardly surprising that people’s attention was on other things.”

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