Bankers and regulators hold constructive talks

Japan's National Strategy Minister Yoshito Sengoku, Montek Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of India's Planning Commission, Zhu Min, Deputy Governor of People's Bank of China and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, MD of IMF attend a session at the World Economic Forum in Davos. (REUTERS)

Bankers and policymakers held constructive talks yesterday about how to reform the financial system and prevent future crises, drawing a line under weeks of recrimination and uproar over reining in bank excesses.

The closed-door informal meeting, held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, reached no firm conclusions or specific proposals but marked an incremental step forward.

Duncan Niederauer, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, said there had been "positive discussions and practical suggestions".

Britain urged US and European banks, policymakers and regulators to move quickly on areas of accord. British Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling said there was agreement on the need to increase capital and so-called living wills, which would allow a quick wind-down of a failed bank.

"What has changed is there is an acceptance on the part of banks that they need to make changes and they need to make changes quickly," Darling said.

"They have moved from a position of almost resenting public interference to one accepting the need to put their house in order."

Bankers attending the meeting said there was no agreement on a global bank levy to pay for bailouts, contrary to a weekend press report. That was only "one of a number of ideas", Darling said. One top banker who took part in the discussions also confirmed talks had broached the creation of a global "resolution fund" to enable the system to absorb the shock of a bank failure, but said this was an existing proposal and was not the focus of discussions.

"The purpose was not to reach a specific agreement, it was to discuss a range of issues," the head of Britain's Financial Services Authority, Adair Turner, said after the talks. Brian Moynihan, Chief Executive of Bank of America, described the talks as "robust" as he emerged from a room in which journalists could glimpse white boards covered in writing headlined "Capital Requirements", "International Regulatory Cooperation" and "Risk Assessment". Yesterday's talks follow behind-the-scenes discussions between leading European and United States banks at Davos, at which they failed to reach agreement on how to fight back against a global push for tougher financial regulation

 

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