The financial climate is in regulation - regulation dictated by emotion. Last week, American representatives voted for a special law to tax 90 percent of the bonuses given to AIG, the insurance giant rescued from bankruptcy thanks to taxpayer money. On Thursday, France announced that it would block the allocation of bonuses and stock options for corporate leaders to companies helped by the state as early as next week.
There have been abuses, but it’s not just that. This debate has left the realm of rationality, and heads are on the chopping block. But that type of approach won’t resolve the crisis.
In a long speech given on Wednesday, Tim Geithner laid down the basis for future – and severe – financial regulation in America, and thus the world. Criticized for his inaction in the past few weeks, the Treasury secretary took initiative once more. On Monday he detailed a rather well-received bank bailout plan, which quenched the fire and started preparations for the future of finance.
His willingness to lead comes just a week before the G20 summit convenes in London. The same willingness was also evident in Barack Obama as the American president set the objectives of the summit, published a few days ago in the press: “To stimulate growth, stabilize and regulate finance.”
On this last point, Tim Geithner proves that he has good sense. He wants to unify a surveillance system that has been scattered until now, or at least make sure he’s got the players covered. He will have to make sure that this reorganization doesn’t add floors to a building that is already too complex, but that it rearranges the space that already exists.
The United States hasn’t forgotten the hunt for the “fiscal paradise.” The Geithner plan is just a small detail and only a little part of the problems facing the world economy. Alas, for the moment, this issue is the only point of agreement for leaders of the G20. If they settle for just this on April 2nd, they will have signed the failure of their meeting, which is no less disturbing than the lack of leadership.