Higher up this year on the list of things Americans care less about is the latest World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Are the Davos attendees hatching a plan to use their own money to rescue the global financial system? No. Are individuals among them finally stepping forward to declare their guilt as participants in the credit bubble that led to the global chaos we´re currently experiencing? No. Did some of them arrive in private jets? You betcha.
Nevertheless rescue and regulation are topics for discussion up there on the lofty mount. Yesterday, the head of Britain´s Financial Services Authority, Adair Turner, called for the establishment of a global financial regulator, with powers over the financial markets that would mirror those the World Trade Organization has over, um, trade.
The American perspective on this, however, has to be one of disbelief and perhaps disregard. Tell us what to do? Not even the United Nations can do that.
G20 meetings at the highest level are becoming commonplace and recently muted international organizations like the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development have grown vocal once again. This is only highlighting the split between the reality of the cause-and-effect relationship between events in the US and financial conditions in the rest of the world and the dream of multinational participation. And right now, US lawmakers aren´t focused on what´s happening outside their borders.
The regulatory pendulum has just begun its swoop back toward a stricter, more meticulously monitored environment. Derivatives trading, mortgage lending, and credit card practices are all under new scrutiny. But the debate is still about whether or not to regulate things here.
It will be interesting to watch as global conversation flares up and whether it produces concrete changes or simply dies. Will there be a time when an FSA chairman´s statement has real relevance to US bankers? What a brave new world that would be.