PUTIN AND CHINA: US RESPONSIBLE IN THE ECONOMIC CRISIS
[Criticism of the US comes from Russia and China on the occasion of the World Economic Forum in Davos. The “blind pursuit of profit” of the US has led to the worst crisis since the Great Depression of 1929. This January 2009 article is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.diepresse.com
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Russian Prime minister Vladimir Putin championed an energy partnership of producers and consumers on a clear legal foundation. Moscow wants to diversity the transit routes, he said in his opening address. China’s head of government Wen Jiabao urged supporting industrial countries in overcoming the financial crisis.
Without entering directly into the latest gas conflict with the Ukraine, Putin proposed a contractual regulation for energy security. This could play a similar rule to the 1951 treaty that founded the European Community for Coal and Steel (EGKS), the precursor of the European Union.
“CRISES WERE ALREADY IN THE AIR”
Putin made the US responsible first of all for today’s economic- and financial crisis. Crisis was already in the air but the majority still want their slice of the cake “whether a dollar or a billion,” Putin said. A year ago delegates from the US at the forum in Davos referred to the “basic stability of the US economy and its clear prospects,” he added alluding to the speech of the former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Investment banks, the pride of Wall Street, have practically ceased to exist today, Putin added. In only twelve months, their losses surpassed the profits of the last 25 years. The Russian head of government wished success to the new US president Barack Obama and his team. He expressed hope for “constructive cooperation.”
WEN FOR STRONGER REGULATION
Wen said the “blind pursuit of profit” of the US led to the worst crisis since the Great Depression of 1929. The international community must accept its responsibility. Industrial countries must diminish the negative effects of the crisis in upcoming economies and help them “gain stability and economic growth.”
“Wen urged a stronger regulation of the world financial system. The present crisis has “completely unmasked” the deficits of the existing system, he said. The Chinese head of government championed a reform of the international financial institutions subjecting developed countries to a stronger control in the future.
Wen called on the US to build cooperation with his country. Given the crisis, this cooperation is “urgently necessary.” “A peaceful and harmonious relation makes both sides winners.” This has been shown since the assumption of diplomatic relations between Peking and Washington.
WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM:
EVERY CRISIS HAS ITS WINNERS
By Karl Gaulhofer
[This article published on diepresse.com 1/28/2009 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://diepresse.com/home/wirtschaft/finanzkrise/447837/print.do
For the experts in Davos, the way leads back to piggy-bank capitalism. For the financial markets, “honest” regional banks have the best chances after the end of investment bankers.
In Davos, high above in the Swiss mountains, people can live well in the crisis. The picturesque winter landscape makes people forget that the economic ice age has its casualties in the lowlands. A pleasant open fire in the hotel lobby diverts from the fire in the roof of the financial world. 2500 economic bosses, economists and politicians at the World Economic Forum (WEF) want to improve the world from the leather sofa.
For many managers, the future has already begun. From their view, every crisis has an end along with lessons. Every crisis has its winners. For the financial markets, the emphasis is back to the roots. The smart investment banker is passé; the honest piggy-bank returns.
BANK BUSINESS IN THE STATUS QUO
40 heads of state and heads of government are more than at the G20 meeting in Washington. They promised to quickly put reins on capitalism. Fear was behind their hurry. Without a worldwide regulation, the sly bankers, the vintage of the best universities and state officials soon outwit the others. They could create new risky derivatives and escape in tax- and control havens. The next crisis would be pre-programmed.
However the basis of discussion in Davos, a study on “The Future of the International Financial System,” speaks another language. According to that language, the whole model collapsed, not several investment banks. Fabulous profits were gained with great debt leveraging. The authors assume that normal commercial banks will completely dissolve their divisions for these risky businesses. Outside actors from whom every bank lives – their customers and investors – will be more important.
Most have lost much money and have little pleasure in taking new risks, as the study shows. Instead of fast profit growth, they now urge constant revenues. Balance sheets must be solid. The higher the share of their own capital, the better stock prices will develop in crisis. The clear correlation demonstrates: the state leading by the nose is not needed. Customers and shareholders force the banks to raise their own resources and better ensure liquidity. Therefore the institutions vigorously court the many small savers and the few rich risk-shy private customers.
THE LONG DERIDED ARE NOW SOUGHT-AFTER
Those long derided institutions that remain faithful to their core functions have the best chances, managing savings deposits and supplying capital to businesses. This should happen in a regional environment where people know each other and use contacts to politicians.
According to a study, these institutions are counted winners of the crisis – as new owners of partly nationalized banks. This role, the WEF-economists fear, entices the state to protectionism. Native indigenous institutions could be strengthened and international institutions driven back. In any case, when the balance sheets are revitalized, there will be conflict with private shareholders.
The governments should harmonize better with these businesses that can build bridges, tunnels and power stations to stimulate the business cycle. Thus Siemens confirmed its ambitious profit goals for 2009. At least one of the Davos theses is corroborated: every crisis has its winners.