04 November 2008

Brown brings his begging bowl to the sheiks

How the mighty have fallen. Only a very short time ago, the U.S. and the U.K. were extolling the virtues of their deregulated financial markets and encouraging the rest of us to join the party. Now, as a host of countries face bankruptcy from financial collapse caused by that deregulation, the U.S. and the U.K., as they too plunge into debt, look to dictatorships such as China and Saudi Arabia to bail out the victims.

Over the weekend, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown went cap in hand to the Middle East begging "billions of dollars" to prop up the lender of last resort, the International Monetary Fund. Already Iceland, Hungary, Belarus and Ukraine are seeking IMF loans in order to stave off financial collapse. Others are lining up.

"The world is changing," said John Curtis of the Centre for International Governance Innovation, "This reflects the slowly changing balance of financial power." When the West starts begging the sheiks for a bailout, "change" is putting it mildly.

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