Germany moved toward a new bank levy to cover the cost of future bailouts Wednesday, and France said it would pursue a parallel effort as leading world economies weigh strategies for curbing speculation and preventing future crises.

A proposal approved by the German cabinet would create an annual levy on balance sheets, excluding customers' deposits, that could generate up to $1.6 billion annually. French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, who was at the German cabinet meeting Wednesday as the levy was discussed, said French officials will unveil their own planned levy "very soon."

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