DAVOS, Switzerland (MarketWatch) -- Bankers and politicians agreed on little in public during this week's World Economic Forum gathering of top CEOs and policymakers in the Swiss Alps, other than the desire to see regulations coordinated around the globe.
But some attendees say it's not clear that's going to happen.
Bankers and politicians met behind closed doors at the annual meeting Saturday, though the discussions didn't appear to produce any concrete agreements.
Bankers have acknowledged they are going to see more regulation, said U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, the Democratic chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, after the meeting.
Deutsche Bank chief executive Josef Ackermann, who has emerged as an unofficial spokesman for the bankers at this year's WEF , told an audience at a panel discussion later Saturday that "something has to happen quickly to restore confidence in the banking system."
Ackerman, who chairs the forum's committee of finance CEOs, on Friday said the bankers were in favor of higher capital requirements, better liquidity management and improved market infrastructure, as well as measures that would ensure failed banks could be wound up without bringing down the system. Read about Ackermann's presentation.
Meanwhile, questions surround the ability of regulators to internationally coordinate new banking rules.
Ensuring some degree of uniformity in new banking rules amid intense public anger around much of the world was always going to be a tough task.
The importance of policy coordination was a "key lesson of the crisis," International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said on Saturday. "I'm a bit afraid we're not going in this direction."
"The big unknown is the attitude of the United States," said Barry Eichengreen, an economics professor at the University of California Berkeley, in an interview.
The Obama administration's introduction last week of the "Volcker rule," a proposal that would limit the size of commercial banks, barring them from trading for their own account and operating private equity and hedge funds,
British Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling contends that approach wouldn't solve the problems that created the crisis. He's put the emphasis on increased capital requirements and "living wills" that would detail how to close down failed banks.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy told Davos bankers and other luminaries earlier this week that the Obama measures were correct, but that no nation could go it alone. Efforts must be coordinated by the Group of 20 nations, which agreed in April that the Basel, Switzerland-based Financial Stability Board would oversee negotiations. Read about Sarkozy's speech in Davos.
Banks say that a lack of coordination would make for an un-level playing field. Policy makers say banks would game differences in a damaging round of regulatory arbitrage.
European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet told a Davos audience that failure to coordinate measures "would be a catastrophe."
Frank has said the Obama plan would be passed within months.
In a panel discussion earlier this week, he dismissed ideas that pressing ahead with the plan threatened efforts to coordinate measures across the globe as a "false dichotomy."
While Frank was in high demand this week, Obama administration officials were thin on the ground in Davos.
On Saturday, Eichengreen introduced a high-powered panel discussion of central bankers and business leaders on the issue of financial reform, noting that the panel lacked only a representative of the Obama administration. "But why should this panel be any different from others here at Davos this year," he said.
White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers delivered remarks in Davos Friday, but no other high-profile administration officials were in attendance for the event that began Wednesday.
Eichengreen said a U.S. policy that insists on elements of the Obama plan such as the ban on proprietary trading by commercial banks would make it difficult to reach international agreement.
BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS
Latest from Abkhazia Institute
- List of Victims of ethnic cleansing conducted in Abkhazia occupiers and separatists in 1992
- Address by the President of Georgia at the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly
- The President of Georgia and the NATO Secretary General had a phone conversation
- The President of Georgia and the NATO Secretary General held a joint press conference
- Mikheil Saakashvili held bilateral meetings with the President of Bulgaria and the Prime Minister of Denmark