Page last updated at 17:47 GMT, Saturday, 5 September 2009 18:47 UK

G20 pledges tougher bank action

Alistair Darling: "We are going to enter an era where people are not being rewarded for reckless behaviour"

Finance ministers from the world's most powerful economies have agreed a series of measures to try to regulate the global banking system.

They want a system that rewards long-term performance rather than short-term risk-taking.

However the G20 meeting in London did not agree on specific limits on the amounts individual bankers get paid.

Britain, the US and Canada opposed the idea, but the Financial Stability Board is to examine the issue.

It will report back to the summit of G20 leaders in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania later this month.

Critically now the job is to make sure that you translate those principles into practical propositions that actually bite and actually work
Alistair Darling

The G20 countries agreed on measures requiring banks to disclose the pay and bonuses of their highest-paid employees and to allow bonuses to be "clawed back" if decisions which seemed successful later go wrong.

The FSB has also been asked to look at the desirability of new rules which would allow regulators to rule on whether the total pool of cash set aside by a bank for bonuses is excessive, given its long-term financial stability and strength.

Signs of recovery

Ministers also pledged to continue financial support for the global economy until recovery from recession is secured.

They said they would develop co-ordinated "exit strategies" to deal with ballooning public deficits once the recession is over.

G20 finance ministers and other officials
The finance ministers agreed to continue with economic stimulus plans

But they warned that although there were signs of recovery in the world economy, that recovery would not have happened without massive intervention from governments - and all bankers should take note that they owed their salvation to action by taxpayers.

US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said the momentum for financial reform needed to be kept up despite the signs of an upturn.

"Actions (by the G20) have pulled the global economy back from the edge of the abyss. The financial system is system is showing signs of repair," he said.

"However, we still face significant challenges ahead. Unemployment is unacceptably high. Conditions for a sustained recovery led by private demand are not yet established."

Concrete proposals

UK Chancellor Alistair Darling said all bankers were obliged "to make sure that their pay practices are responsible".

He said: "Above all we are determined to take action to stop banks or other financial institutions getting themselves into a situation where their pay-and-reward practices actually encourage people to take risks which bring their institutions into a situation where they could be brought down with catastrophic results."

Gordon Brown: "Too early a withdrawal of vital support could undermine the tentative signs of recovery we are now seeing"

Discussing possible regulation of bonuses, he said: "If you have got an institution that is struggling or it's in the process of rebuilding itself the regulator could say that pool set aside for bonuses is really too big."

Mr Darling added: "Critically now the job is to make sure that you translate those principals into practical propositions that actually bite and actually work.

"We need to have standards that are observed right across the world."

The US Treasury Secretary added: "Changing compensation practices fundamentally will be fundamental to future reform, and we're going to move forward and do that."

International Reform

International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn said that governments had to act.

It's wrong of us to blame the banks when it's us biting off more than we can chew that caused the problems.
Christopher Lawson

"The problem is we need to go beyond agreement. We need to have concrete measures."

He also announced that the IMF had now collected pledges for all the $500bn additional loan facility that had been agreed in principle at the G20 London summit in April, with Mexico, India and Singapore all chipping in.

But he accepted that the hard questions on how to increase the representation of the poor and emerging countries in the IMF was not yet resolved.

Ministers have agreed to raise "significantly" the say of emerging nations on the world stage.

But concrete proposals will not be put until January 2011.

China has already called for a 7% cut in the voting power of rich countries in the IMF, while the US reportedly suggested 5% - almost all of it the expense of European nations, who are over-represented at the moment.

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