World leaders attack US financial oversight

September 24th, 2008 - 7:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Sep 24 (IANS) Wall Street’s and the Bush administration’s record of financial oversight has come under attack at the UN, with world leaders gathered here for the General Assembly session pointing out that the market turmoil in the US threatened the global economy. “We must not allow the burden of the boundless greed of a few to be shouldered by all,” said President Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva of Brazil in an speech that other leaders were to echo.

Almost every president or prime minister from around the globe referred to the financial upheaval, and the foreboding about what is to come. They were critical of the US for not policing its markets carefully enough to prevent the damage to its own economy and that of others, making it much harder now to raise money for the world’s most vulnerable people.

“The global financial crisis endangers all our work,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in his opening remarks at the General Assembly, and questioned the reliance on free markets.

“We need a new understanding on business ethics and governance, with more compassion and less uncritical faith in the ‘magic’ of markets,” Ban added

US President George W. Bush, making his eighth and last address to the UN, tried to reassure the world that his administration was taking “bold steps” to stem the economic crisis in his country, which, he agreed, “would have a devastating effect on other economies around the world.”

But it is noteworthy that in his speech focused on the importance of continuing the fight against terrorism, Bush devoted only one paragraph to the financial bailout plan. “We’ve promoted stability in the markets by preventing the disorderly failure of major companies,” he said.

Meeting Pakistani President Asif Ali Zarbari on the sidelines of the UN session, Bush acknowledged that world leaders gathered in New York had questioned him, “wondering whether the US has the right plan to deal with this economic crisis”.

For some leaders, the Bush bailout plan itself seemed hypocritical, given the tough course Washington has often advised struggling nations to take.

America’s criticism this time also came from some of its closest allies and trading partners.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy described the crisis as the worst financial mess since the Depression of the 1930s and the financial system as “insane.” He called for a summit meeting in November to determine how to address the problems and to develop greater international regulations of financial markets.

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