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Merkel Says G20 Needs to Push Harder to Control Hedge Fund Risks

Date: Monday, August 26, 2013
Author: Brian Parkin, Bloomberg

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told voters at an election rally that she’ll push for greater regulation of hedge funds at next month’s Group of Twenty meeting.

Addressing a crowd of about 2,000 in the Rhine city of Bonn, Merkel said she hoped European members of the G20 would “speak with one voice” at a meeting in St. Petersburg, amid slow progress on tightening controls on hedge funds. “It’s not enough to regulate just banks but not hedge funds and shadow banks and I’ll fight for that,” she said.

Merkel, campaigning in some 57 towns and cities in the final weeks before the Sept. 22 election, said her government kept its promise to make Germany emerge stronger from the financial crisis. Gaps remain in regulation that may leave taxpayers liable for banking failures while those responsible “disappear over the next hill.”

Merkel will make her only scheduled trip abroad before the election when she meets G20 leaders on Sept. 5 and 6. That includes U.S. President Barack Obama, whose administration this year urged the euro region to boost economic growth.

The chancellor will also meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Senior members of Merkel’s Christian Democrats including chief parliamentary whip Volker Kauder have criticized Abe’s policy of targeting a 2 percent inflation rate. Manipulation of the yen’s value against other currencies may distort foreign-exchange markets and hurt the exports of Japan’s competitors, they said.

Economic Lift

Reports this month that showed Germany’s economy grew 0.7 percent in the second quarter and that the January-June budget was in surplus are helping Merkel’s campaign. Her Christian Democrats and allies the Free Democrats gained a point to 47 percent in an Aug. 21 Forsa GmbH poll. That compares with 35 percent support for a Social Democrat-Green Party opposition coalition.

Peer Steinbrueck, SPD’s candidate for chancellor, has so far failed to put a dent in Merkel’s popularity with a platform of wealth distribution and social justice.

Only 28 percent of respondents to a FG Wahlen poll for ZDF television that was published yesterday said Germany would be more “socially just” under an SPD-Greens government. Just 18 percent said they expected the SPD to rise in the polls.

The SPD tried to open a new front against Merkel this week over the cost of the debt crisis, accusing her of attempting to conceal the need for a third Greek aid program until after the election.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, speaking in an interview published by Handelsblatt newspaper yesterday, said that any Greek aid would be far lower than in the past and he repeated that help would not involve taking a second haircut on Greek debt.