The Observer is on the ball

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I admit that although other Sunday papers appear to be giving me more coverage right now the Observer remains way out leader of the pack. Today’s comment articles show why.

From the editorial:

If the G20 leaders disappoint the markets, they will perhaps prolong by a short while the current financial malaise. But if they ignore public anger and try to turn the clock back, they will sow the seeds of a new, more dangerous crisis in political legitimacy. That must be the message Mr Brown delivers on Thursday.

This is exactly right. There is a choice about who to disappoint here — and there’s no doubt who it has to be.

From Will Hutton:

My understanding is that, extraordinarily, the G20 will decide to regulate hedge funds, register credit-rating agencies and their business practices, insist that derivative trading is undertaken in regulated exchanges, set a framework for bank pay and bonuses, require transparency and disclosure of information from tax havens and organise international "colleges of regulators".

It’s easy to say ‘that’s not enough’ and even that it’s disappointing — but candidly it is one heck of an outcome. As Nick Mathiason notes:

Such has been the capitulation by tax havens that senior international regulators say more has been achieved in the last 13 weeks than in the previous 13 years put together.

I want more of course — but let’s count the achievement — this is true.

William Keegan is also on form:

Yes, I understand the Treasury's worries about the size of the budget deficit. Yes, I admire the sophistication of the disturbing analysis in the Institute for Fiscal Studies "green budget" of January this year. But the depression-style deterioration in output is almost certainly making the underlying fiscal position look even worse than it is, and more - a lot more - may yet need to be done. At times like this budget deficits are not the problem: they are part of the solution.

Someone please tell the economic illiterates at the IoD and Bank of England please.

I’ve left Simon Caulkin to last. As he notes, with his usual perception, it is time to explode the myth of the shareholder:

In a forthcoming book, The Rise and Fall of Management, Gordon Pearson shows [that c]ontrary to common assumptions, shareholders do not own companies (how could they and benefit from limited liability at the same time?), and directors owing their duty to the company can't be "agents" of shareholders - indeed, they are charged with acting fairly as between all company members. It's a measure of how much present governance has lost its way that resurrecting such ideas should now seem so radical - and so urgently necessary.

Thank goodness there is a home for the sanity of such ideas within the UK press.