James Bone in New York
As the US sought to find a way out of the financial crisis, its critics at the United Nations were gloating over what they described as the crumbling of US capitalism.
Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, the former Sandinista revolutionary in Nicaragua who is now serving as president of the UN 192-nation General Assembly, broke with protocol in his opening speech to denounce the “unbridled greed and irresponsibility of the powerful.”
“More than half the world’s people languish in hunger and poverty while more and more money is spent on weapons, war, luxuries and totally superfluous and unnecessary things,” he said….
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, meanwhile, baldly proclaimed: “The American Empire is reaching the end of the road.”
Even friends of the United States took aim at greed on Wall Street. “We must not allow the burden of the boundless greed of a few to be shouldered by all,” President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil told the assembly.
President Barrat Jagdeo of Guyana complained: “There is clear evidence that many of the standards and much of the scrutiny that are applied routinely to smaller countries were not applied to some larger countries which actually pose much greater systemic risk.”
Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said “economic uncertainty has moved like a terrible tsunami around the globe, wiping away gains, erasing progress – not just here in Manhattan island, but also in the many islands of the Philippines.” “Just when we thought the worst had passed, the light at the end of the tunnel became an oncoming train, hurtling forward with new shocks to the global financial system.”
Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, told the visiting leaders: “We need a new understanding on business ethics and governance, with more compassion and less uncritical faith in the ‘magic’ of markets.
President Nicholas Sarkozy of France called for a wholesale overhaul of the “crazy” financial system. “Let us rebuild together a regulated capitalism in which whole swathes of financial activity are not left to the sole judgment of market operators,” Mr Sarkozy said.