So we need new rules for international financial markets according to Alistair Darling in his Labour Party Conference speech today. All very well. The actual passage of his speech, as quoted by The Telegraph is thus:

Just as one government alone cannot combat global terrorism, just as one government alone cannot deal with climate change, one government alone cannot deal with the impact of globalisation.

But hold on a minute. Fine words, but it’s a pity this sentiment has been prompted by the crises in the financial markets in the UK and the USA. While Germany has welcomed Darling’s words (EUObserver here) there was a sharp tone from Angela Merkel while campaigning for the ƃā€“VP in Linz, Austria. See this from Reuters in German, and this passage from it (my translation):

Time and again it was said: ‘Let the markets be free, we do not need more transparency,’ said Merkel. ‘But today we are further on: because America and Britain say yes, we need more transparency, we need better standards for the rating agencies.’

Merkel had even put forward proposals to this effect when Germany chaired the G8 in 2007 but no progress was made. Now I’m not sure whether such rules would have prevented all the happenings of last week but why does it need a crisis to force international cooperation of this nature?

And while we’re at it can we maybe learn the lessons for other sectors? Perhaps some proper EU energy market regulator before the next gas price problem hits?

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