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Transparency and regulation: An opportunity missed

Market participants will live to regret not getting their own houses in order.

They spent years arguing that over-regulation will kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Now financiers and rating agencies have discovered that not only is there no golden egg, but the goose has already been cooked. Without more of the much-vilified regulation, the rest of the farmyard could end up in the pot too.

The timing of the annual IMF/World Bank meetings could not have been better, coming as they did just after the summer’s disorders and significant investment bank losses on sub-prime, leveraged loans and CDOs. A sombre mood prevailed in Washington, despite the firmer tone of financial markets – and it’s easy to see why. For once the most meaningful discussions were on the traditional engine room of the global economy: US sub-prime fall out and its effects on both American and European finance will undoubtedly lead to greater regulatory oversight, possibly at a global level.

Joaquin Almunia, EU commissioner for economic and monetary affairs told the second annual EU government bond summit at the end of October that all of the authorities charged with ensuring global financial stability are of the same mind on the key areas that need looking at.

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