WHO could have guessed that Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy would so quickly make-up after their recent spat over appointments to the European Commission that an article jointly written by them would appear in the Wall Street JournaI? But yesterday, there was the article in black-and-white, headlined For Global Finance, Global Regulation, and by-lined by the British prime minister and the French president. Whatever else they disagree over, they apparently agree on stronger regulation of the banking system: This crisis has made us recognise that we are now in an economy which is no longer national but global, so financial standards must also be global. There is an urgent need for a long-term compact that encapsulates both the responsibilities of the banking system and the risk they pose to the economy as a whole.
To some extent this is business left-over from the two G-20 summits held earlier this year at which Europe, including to some extent Britain, appeared to support global regulation but the United States opposed it. Perhaps the recalcitrance of British banks has persuaded Gordon Brown to be more supportive of the French and German belief in the need for global standards. The article was perfectly balanced -- London and Paris as world-class financial centres -- and topical to the point of endorsing Chancellor Alistair Darling's one-off tax on banker's bonuses made only a few hours earlier.