October 6, 2010
This report focuses on defining the major issues in financial regulation that demand transatlantic cooperation, and putting them in their global context.  It analyzes the effects of proposed rules on the US and European economies, including the impact on the real economy and especially the business sector, and outlines concrete recommendations for policymakers.
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The Atlantic Council, in partnership with Thomson Reuters, assembled a task force of experts from academia, think tanks, and the private sector, as well as government representatives, to discuss financial market reform and the state of transatlantic cooperation. Task force members provided information and perspectives on the issues covered in the report. Doug Elliot of the Brookings Institution served as report rapporteur.

Two years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers sparked a meltdown of the global financial system, we are at a crucial point that calls for us to step back and examine our progress in the effort to redesign the rules governing global financial markets. The immediacy of the crisis has passed, allowing for clearer analysis of the manifold causes and an evaluation of how the reforms that have been put in place match up with those causes. At the same time, the urgency of the process has not yet entirely dissipated and it is not too late to fill in any holes or to resolve conflicts created by differing approaches around the world.

There has been a great deal of progress and global partnership in laying the foundation for managing the worst of the fallout that has plagued the global economy since 2007. The process is by no means complete, but the attention to the challenge and the level at which it has been addressed is truly significant. Leaders of the Group of Twenty (G-20) met four times in 14 months – and will meet for a fifth time in November – on a single, all-consuming issue. They moved rapidly, establishing the G-20 as the manager of the global response, and acted together to stem the cascading financial chaos that unfolded over 2008 and 2009. 

The report addresses the most critical issues requiring coordination by asking the following questions:

  • What core principles should guide any recommendations on financial reform?
  • How do financial systems and market roles differ globally?
  • Was this just a “North Atlantic Crisis” requiring only a North Atlantic solution and that can be ignored elsewhere?
  • What are the institutional processes of the US and European governments that drive decisions on financial regulation?
  • How is international coordination being organized?
  • What were the causes of the financial crisis?
  • What is being done on each side of the Atlantic to fix the causes of the crisis?
  • What transatlantic regulatory conflicts need to be resolved and what differences are acceptable?
  • How will regulatory reform affect the economy?
  • How can financial reform efforts best be improved or extended?

The views expressed in this report are inspired by conversations with the rapporteur and do not constitute a consensus view from the task force or a view from its individual members. Nor do the views expressed here necessarily represent the views of the Atlantic Council or Thomson Reuters.