Gordon Brown gets something right

Gordon Brown (picture World Economic Forum)

Amid the daily assaults on him in parliament and in the media, Gordon Brown can at least take comfort in some praise today on this blog. He is reported on the Daily Mail website (read the report here) as calling for effective international efforts to deal with the global financial crisis.

It is evident from growing economic interdependence that problems in one country will spread around the world. The response of the regulatory system to those problems therefore needs to bring all those different countries together, rather than leaving them to be picked off by the market one after another. Where Iceland went, others could follow, if they do not band together to protect themselves.

Gordon Brown saw all this a long time ago:

“As I said in Harvard ten years ago, we need an early warning system so that international financial flows are properly monitored.”

He went on to say:

“We must create a framework for the international governance that we currently lack. We must consider at a global level the regulatory deficit. For a decade I have said that the current patchwork arrangement is inadequate.”

He is right to say that these things need to be done. But, as ever on this blog, the story does not stop there.

During the decade in which he has said these things, what has he done? Well, there were regular European attempts to introduce tougher rules on international financial flows within the EU, in the form of taxation, but Gordon Brown resisted them on the grounds that tax was a matter of national sovereignty.

There have been attempts to restrict the pernicious activities of tax havens such as the Cayman Islands and the Channel Islands. Who opposed these efforts over the past few years? Step forward British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown.

And most importantly of all, sixteen European countries have created a new shared currency that helps them deal with international financial turbulence much more effectively than if they were attempting to deal with it on their own. British membership of the euro would help the UK and, also, strengthen the eurozone still further in addition. Why has Britain not joined? Who better to ask than – well, you know the score by now.

Still, at least Gordon Brown says the right things.

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