Financial markets must be ‘put back in its place’

In what has been described as the toughest comments by a leading European
politician since the start of the subprime crisis, Horst Köhler, the German
president and former head of the
Monetary Fund
(IMF), yesterday slammed global financial markets as “a
monster” which “must be put back in its place”.

Köhler said in an interview with the German
Stern magazine, to be
published today, world financial markets had come close to “a collapse” and
called for greater regulation in the wake of the subprime mess, according to the
Financial Times.

The German president was comparing bankers with alchemists who were
responsible for “massive destruction of assets” and called for the
reconstruction of a “continental European banking culture”.

“The complexity of financial products and the possibility to carry out huge
leveraged trades with little [of their] own capital have allowed the monster to
grow…also responsible [is] the grotesquely high compensation of individual
finance managers,” he said.

Further reading:

Credit crunch breeds investor activists

Bank annual reports are ‘unreadable’

the Financial Times story

Related reading

Fiona Westwood of Smith and Williamson.