A crisis to concentrate the mind

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The International Herald Tribune has reported a Bloomberg opinion column which concludes:

U.S. and European leaders differ on remedies for the economic crisis, but they share a desperate need to pay down their deficits and claw back every available tax dollar and euro. They also have to answer to taxpayers for the money earmarked to wobbly financial institutions.

"Is it normal that a bank, to which we guarantee loans or to which we allocate our funds, continues operating in tax havens?" President Nicolas Sarkozy of France asked recently.

It was this exasperation that propelled countries like Germany, France, Britain and the United States into joint action against banking secrecy.

Their threats worked, but there is more to do. If the G20 leaders are serious about cleaning up the financial environment, they should shine more light on offshore zones that thrive on opacity. All it takes is a decision to flick the switch together.

There's nothing like a global economic crisis to concentrate the mind. It would be a pity to waste it.

It’s extraordinary that this is being written.

The G20 may not deliver all I want — but the ball is now rolling very fast indeed.

I’m beginning to think real change is possible.