Saturday, November 15, 2008

Prime Minister Gordon Brown against saving Big Three

I'm an anglophile, but Gordon Brown is testing my patience. Give me liberal doses of Monty Python, Shakespeare, the Magna Carta, Yorkshire pudding, paneer makhani, C.S. Lewis, the Rolling Stones, William Byrd, Beowulf, Peter Rabbit, cockles and mussels. But please spare me the advice to let the U.S. auto industry crumble.

At the G20 Summit yesterday British Prime Minster Gordon Brown described bailing out the U.S. auto industry as akin to 1930s style protectionism. Brown said, "The dividing line here is between an open society capable of trading round the world, against a protectionist response that happened in the 1930s and is totally unacceptable."

That's a whopper of an either/or. Either we're an open society presumably like Britain (hey what about all those cameras around London?) or we are stupid protectionists (pitching tea overboard). Has he trotted that past the Chinese, renowned for skewed trade practices, currency manipulation and government subsidized manufacturing? Probably not. Maybe he's just jealous that the United States still has a car industry to protect, while Britain does not...think Jaguar and Land Rover.

In fact, Mr. Brown champions extensive global management, regulation and oversight of finance. He would like to expand the IMF's role in the care and feeding of Mammon. According to the Times, "He wants the IMF to create a council of experts to monitor the markets for danger signs — his much-vaunted early-warning system — and the IMF’s coffers to be boosted by cash-rich states such as Saudi Arabia and China. He is also calling for a clean-up of the banking system, including a network of regulators to scrutinise the world’s biggest banks. "

But who minds the minders and what's Brown willing to trade away to get China and Saudi Arabia to ante up?