Scapegoating les Anglo-Saxons
EU poobahs take aim at Wall Street and the City.
Jun 21, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 38 • By ANDREW STUTTAFORD
Much of this is bound to affect the business carried out by Anglo-American finance in Europe, but it is not directly protectionist. The same cannot be said of Brussels’s Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive, a rough beast now slouching towards some kind of birth. The primary focus of the directive is much tougher regulation of “alternative” investments, such as hedge funds, private equity funds, and the rest of Müntefering’s locust class (funds, incidentally that have received no bailouts—but who cares about that in Brussels). That’s not good news for the players in this market—mostly in the U.K.—and it could also represent a major obstacle to U.S. funds operating within the EU. In neither case is this a coincidence.
Hogtied by recent changes in the EU’s rulemaking procedure, the U.K. cannot do much to stand in the way (should David Cameron’s new, not very City-friendly government even feel so inclined). That leaves Washington as the last line of defense. There are clear and reassuring signs that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner now recognizes the nature of the danger that American finance now faces.
That’s something. But will the Obama administration really be prepared to go to the mat for an industry that it too finds convenient to demonize? And even if it is, just how much will Brussels be prepared to listen?
As Rahm Emanuel once said . . .
Andrew Stuttaford, who writes frequently about cultural and political issues, works in the international financial markets.