Page last updated at 01:33 GMT, Saturday, 18 October 2008 02:33 UK

PM says markets' flaws exposed

Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown wants to stick to three key ethics

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said the current global financial crisis has "laid bare the weaknesses of unbridled free markets".

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Brown said New Labour was "pro-business and pro-markets and always will be".

However, he also sounded a cautious note by saying that society should not live by markets alone.

The markets must reflect society's values, including "fairness, stewardship and co-operation," he said.

Mr Brown said he wanted to uphold these three key ethics in public policy and across the public arena, as "markets work best when underpinned by an ethic of fairness".

This is a "defining moment for our emerging global society", he added.

"The ethic of fairness means we reward hard work, thrift, enterprise, effort and responsible risk taking, but refuse to condone or reward irresponsible or excessive risk taking," he said.

Also, the "ethic of stewardship must restore to all financial institutions their public purpose.

In this uncertain world the values of fairness, stewardship and co-operation that underpin markets at their best have come of age
Gordon Brown

"All boards need to proceed on the basis the best companies do already - that when people start a new business or save up for a wedding or for Christmas they are investing not just their cash in the bank but also their hopes and dreams."

Mr Brown also said that, given the current worldwide financial crisis, "we are also finding that in an interdependent global economy the ethic of co-operation matters more than ever. We are in this together."

The prime minister said he had set out proposals for a new global early warning system, for "cross-border supervision for action to eliminate the conflicts of interest that have dragged our world economy down, and for fundamental reform of international institutions".

He added: "In this uncertain world the values of fairness, stewardship and co-operation that underpin markets at their best have come of age.

"These are the values that can unite the nation, will ensure we can pull together as one country - and we will come through the downturn stronger not weaker."

On Friday, Conservative leader David Cameron launched a stinging attack on Mr Brown's handling of the economy.

He said the prime minister's strategy had "fundamentally failed" and accused him of hiding from past policy failures.




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