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nzherald: UK Chancellor hits out at Europe over protectionism

UK Chancellor Gordon Brown has launched an outspoken attack on the rising tide of protectionism across Europe, accusing its governments of blocking cross-border takeovers for reasons of economic patriotism.

The Chancellor also urged EU partners to accept the need for steeper cuts in farm subsidies as the way to strike a new deal on world trade that would deliver £300 billion ($888 billion) of economic growth.

Both issues will be centre stage at meetings of EU finance ministers this week and of the G8 rich nations at the weekend.

Speaking to business leaders at a CBI dinner, Mr Brown said there had been a backlash against globalisation across Europe.

"In the last few months - as talk of national champions rather than global companies resurfaces - we have seen France block Italian takeovers, Italy block Dutch banking takeovers, Spain block German energy bids and Poland block Italian financial service bids," he said.

He said there was a "danger of a relapse into protectionism ... and economic patriotism" in Europe and Latin America.

"What we must do is win the argument that is raging throughout the world showing that embracing globalisation, not retreating into protectionism, is the best way to growth jobs and prosperity for all.

by Fran on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:18:31 AM EST
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"What we must do is win the argument that is raging throughout the world showing that embracing globalisation, not retreating into protectionism, is the best way to growth jobs and prosperity for all.

It's that "for all" part that is the tough part. Well, at least it certainly makes corporate profits and CEO salaries grow.

by gradinski chai on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 12:48:22 AM EST
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Well, no-compromise Gordon says this:

At the G8 St Petersburg summit [on Saturday] I will call for world finance ministers to lead the debate about who benefits from globalisation

So we shall have an answer to the question about benefits for all. Meanwhile, I'm holding my breath.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 03:01:08 AM EST
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So a whole bunch of rich guys will all go, "Well, I'm better off"...case closed.

See, whatever the demonstrated reality, these guys still believe in trickle-down even when all of their policies are about sucking-up. They just can't/don't see that what's good for the economy (aka stock market) isn't necessarily good for the polulation as a whole.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 05:57:54 AM EST
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This is certainly entertaining:


However, interviewed on BBC Radio yesterday, the Chancellor side-stepped questions about his view of a takeover of Centrica, the UK gas company, by Gazprom of Russia.

"I think with Gazprom there are questions about politics as well as economics," he said. In February, the UK Government said any Gazprom bid would come under "robust scrutiny" after reports it was considering an offer.

Why does Gordon Brown hate free trade?


Mikhail from SF

by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 01:14:10 AM EST
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Cos he's a hypocrite. Free trade is what we do to other people, when people do it to us it's another thing entirely.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:11:00 AM EST
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Note (quoted from the original article in The Independent, this charming Godwinism:

He became the latest politician to compare the current rise in economic patriotism with the nationalism of the 1920s and 1930s that led to the rise of Fascism and the Second World War.

No less. However, with Gazprom there are "political" considerations.

Wanker.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 02:58:37 AM EST
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From atimes

"As contradictory as it may seem, fascist dictatorship was made possible because of the flawed notion of freedom which held sway during the era of laissez-faire capitalism in the early twentieth century. It was the liberals of that era that clamored for unfettered personal and economic freedom, no matter what the cost to society.

Such untrammeled freedom is not suitable to civilized humans. It is the freedom of the jungle. In other words, the strong have more of it than the weak. It is a notion of freedom which is inherently violent, because it is enjoyed at the expense of others. Such a notion of freedom legitimizes each and every increase in the wealth and power of those who are already powerful, regardless of the misery that will be suffered by others as a result.

The use of the state to limit such "freedom" was denounced by the laissez-faire liberals of the early twentieth century. The use of the state to protect such "freedom" was fascism. Just as monopoly is the ruin of the free market, fascism is the ultimate degradation of liberal capitalism.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/GL15Dj01.html


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:13:25 AM EST
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Hah! Good one, Helen!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:16:18 AM EST
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It is a sad state of affairs when the early laissez-faire liberals like Adam Smith of John Stuart Mills look like lefties compared to the current mainstream:
Such regulations may, no doubt, be considered as in some respect a violation of natural liberty. But those exertions of the natural liberty of a few individuals, which might endanger the security of the whole society, are, and ought to be, restrained by the laws of all governments; of the most free, as well as or the most despotical. — Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:19:30 AM EST
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Dead on. They called themselves national socialists for a reason.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 06:28:07 AM EST
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For some reason the first time I read that I thought it was Hayek's witterings against socialism. Very strange.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 07:04:32 AM EST
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Some sort of Godwin's law? The probability of some ideologue blaming the opposing ideology for being the ultimate root of fascism approaches one?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 07:12:01 AM EST
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we have seen France block Italian takeovers, Italy block Dutch banking takeovers, Spain block German energy bids and Poland block Italian financial service bids

Let's see:

  • the purchase of HVB by Unicredito had the effect of merging their two big Polish affiliates and create the biggest Polish bank. After some negotiations, and small concessions by Unicredito, this is now actually taking place;

  • the takeover bid of Endesa by E.On is under way. No formal steps have been taken by Spain

  • the takeover of Antonoveneto by ABN-Amro has now been completed, and in the meantime BNL has been purchased by BNP-Paribas

  • there never was an "Italian takeover" in France, as ENEL never made an offer on Suez (which is half Belgian anyway, and it was only the Belgian assets - in the power industry - that interested ENEL anyway). And the EU cleared France for actign properly in pushing the marger of Suez and GDF.

So what is he talking about?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 03:45:15 AM EST
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