Anyone for a B-20?

Government leaders use the G-20 to sort out all kinds of nasty world problems, and HSBC Group Chairman Stephen Green figures business executives could do the same with a Business 20, or B-20.Floating his idea at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mr. Green proposed that the world's largest companies, particularly those operating internationally, be represented on the B-20.

According to a press release HSBC issued Friday, its chairman sees a need for "a new set of principles and rules that promote international trade by increasing transparency and simplicity in the financial system, and proposed a forum to enable global businesses to engage with governments and regulators as this new marketplace is constructed."

"This crisis is the worst I have seen in 25 years as a banker and possibly the worst since the 1930s," Mr. Green said in Davos. "The current financial framework, though well intentioned, has proved inadequate and must be fundamentally revised."

But it's more than financial services, he said.

"The financial system, while desperately in need of change, is just part of the challenge before us. Business needs to cooperate with government and regulators in the creation of a new global marketplace for all industries and consumers."

Turns out the U.K. government is running the G-20 right now, and Baroness Shriti Vadera, its minister for competitiveness and small business, endorsed the formation of a business counterpart.

"We welcome this initiative from HSBC to get the world's leading businesses to support the G-20 and the steps being taken by governments around the world to tackle the current global economic challenges."

Tarp Misuse Charge

Banks have been criticized for not lending the capital they received under the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program.But last week the Greenlining Institute told Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner that four banks — JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp., and Goldman Sachs — are "misusing" Tarp money to finance the Pfizer-Wyeth merger.

The four have collected a combined $120 billion under Tarp and are part of a group of lenders pledging $22.5 billion to the pharmaceutical deal.

Greenlining sent separate letters last week to Mr. Bernanke and Mr. Geithner to protest the banks' role.

(The Berkeley, Calif., group is also urging the Justice Department to block the merger on antitrust grounds.)

"Should these scarce funds be used to promote a merger that will admittedly result in the loss of 19,500 jobs, cutbacks in research, and probably lead to higher healthcare costs?," Greenlining leaders Orson Aguilar and Hector Javier Preciado asked in the letters.

"We urge you … [to] set forth whether Tarp funds are being properly used during a massive credit crisis for small businesses and whether Tarp funds are being misused to interfere with Obama administration objective relating to job creation and health care availability at affordable prices."

Hedge Group Hires

The hedge fund trade group headed by former House Financial Services Republican Rep. Richard Baker, the Managed Funds Association, has hired two lobbyists.Louis Costantino Jr., a director of government relations with Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. for the past five years, is joining the group on Feb. 9 as a vice president of government relations.

Before joining Merrill, Mr. Costantino worked at the Securities Industry Association, which is now the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.

David Landers, who spent four years at Credit Suisse Group as a director for external affairs and public policy, is joining the association as a vice president for government relations. He starts Feb. 17.

Before working for Credit Suisse, Mr. Landers was an assistant vice president for government and industry relations at MetLife Inc.

Save the Date

The third annual America Saves Week kicks off Feb. 22. The nationwide campaign encourages savings among low- and moderate-income households.The list of organizers is long and includes everyone from the U.S. Army to AARP to American Express. For more information visit

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