BRUSSELS: Even as the G-20 meeting in Washington DC seeks to thrash out solutions to looming problems of recession, simple but creative ideas to deal with the current global financial crises were shared by business, banking and market experts at a meeting in the European Union parliament in Brussels.
The international business and leadership symposium was presided over by European Parliament member, UK-based Sri Lankan Niraj Deva, who stressed the underlying theme of the need for ethics in business. “The lack of sustainable ethics in business has been a key factor in the financial decline we see today. Had this been in place, the global system would be intact and prosperous,” he said.
Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s International Association for Human Values (IAHV) founded in 1997 in Geneva has made the conference on “Ethics in Business: Corporate Culture and Spirituality” an annual event that brings together prominent leaders from major sectors worldwide. This is the sixth such conference, the third in Brussels.
World Bank vice-president Michael Klein (financial and private sector development) and chief economist, International Finance, spelt out the three options currently available to deal with the current global financial crises: “First, leave it to markets to correct themselves; second, rely on regulators and third, expect politicians to sort out the mess.”
He added, “The problem with the first option is when people continue to party, living in denial that the bubble has burst; the second wouldn’t work for no one would listen to a party-pooper (who anticipates a bubble-burst and so directs that the party should stop) just when it seems things are going great and the third option would be useless since politicians wouldn’t want to play party-spoiler especially if elections are round the corner.”
What is the solution, then? A mix of options, one and two, but it is important also for people to be careful of where they put their money. Klein warned ordinary investors of getting tempted by “Ninja loans where lenders are willing to give large amounts to someone unemployed and with no assets. If you do give in to the temptation, then don’t complain when the lender wants his money back.”
Asked if he would promote the idea of an overall regulatory authority, Klein said that what is required is additional transparency and case-to-case regulation even when a financial institution is doing nothing illegal.
“We need a Martin Luther King in the financial sector to bring change and stability,” said Economics professor Rudy Aernoudt of the University of Ghent, Belgium. “We talk of the need for a level playing field whereas what we really need is a loyal playing field.”