Monday, November 17, 2008

The G-20 statement from the Washington Summit

As expected, not much in the way of significant progress was made at last weekend's meeting of the G-20 Head's of State in Washington DC. At least, none that can be discerned from the joint declaration issued at the end of the summit. Again, however, it is worth stressing that GAL mechanisms do play a prominent role in the rhetoric; increasingly, it seems accurate to state that one of the key questions in reforming the institutions of global governance is over which administrative law rules and principles should be applied in each context, not whether administrative law constraints are applicable at all. This can be taken as evidence of the emergence of a generalised "culture" of administrative law within global regulatory governance - which, as I have suggested in some detail elsewhere, should be viewed as one of the crucial elements of the "emergence" of GAL. Here are the key excerpts from the summit declaration:

We commit to implementing policies consistent with the following common principles for reform.

- Strengthening Transparency and Accountability: We will strengthen financial market transparency, including by enhancing required disclosure on complex financial products and ensuring complete and accurate disclosure by firms of their financial conditions. Incentives should be aligned to avoid excessive risk-taking.

- Enhancing Sound Regulation: We pledge to strengthen our regulatory regimes, prudential oversight, and risk management, and ensure that all financial markets, products and participants are regulated or subject to oversight, as appropriate to their circumstances. We will exercise strong oversight over credit rating agencies, consistent with the agreed and strengthened international code of conduct. We will also make regulatory regimes more effective over the economic cycle, while ensuring that regulation is efficient, does not stifle innovation, and encourages expanded trade in financial products and services. We commit to transparent assessments of our national regulatory systems.

- Promoting Integrity in Financial Markets: We commit to protect the integrity of the world's financial markets by bolstering investor and consumer protection, avoiding conflicts of interest, preventing illegal market manipulation, fraudulent activities and abuse, and protecting against illicit finance risks arising from non-cooperative jurisdictions. We will also promote information sharing, including with respect to jurisdictions that have yet to commit to international standards with respect to bank secrecy and transparency.

- Reinforcing International Cooperation: We call upon our national and regional regulators to formulate their regulations and other measures in a consistent manner. Regulators should enhance their coordination and cooperation across all segments of financial markets, including with respect to cross-border capital flows. Regulators and other relevant authorities as a matter of priority should strengthen cooperation on crisis prevention, management, and resolution.

- Reforming International Financial Institutions: We are committed to advancing the reform of the Bretton Woods Institutions so that they can more adequately reflect changing economic weights in the world economy in order to increase their legitimacy and effectiveness. In this respect, emerging and developing economies, including the poorest countries, should have greater voice and representation. The Financial Stability Forum (FSF) must expand urgently to a broader membership of emerging economies, and other major standard setting bodies should promptly review their membership. The IMF, in collaboration with the expanded FSF and other bodies, should work to better identify vulnerabilities, anticipate potential stresses, and act swiftly to play a key role in crisis response.

Both more global administration, then, and more global administrative law. Each paragraph here contains clear evidence of the emerging culture of administrative-law-as-regulatory-common-sense that I have referred to previously: commitments to strengthen accountability, oversight, information-sharing and - perhaps most strikingly, as it is the only point at which the rhetoric seems to go beyond the technocratic governance logic that otherwise is clearly dominant - the participation of even the poorest countries in formulating international standards, are all clear indicators of this shift. Talk, however, although clearly important, remains relatively cheap; and action is unlikely to be particularly rapidly forthcoming. Deadlines for taking initial actions have been set for the end of March 2009, with the likelihood of a further meeting just afterwards. For the next six months at least, then, it seems unlikely in the extreme that a radically reformed global governance structure will influence the manner in which the financial crisis plays out.

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