The Great Fall
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Should such national bank-rescue schemes be subject to international control, and if so, by whom? At one limit, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has advocated a sort of United Nations Economic Council, much like the Security Council. The idea has as yet won few backers — and the long, unsuccessful attempt to reform the membership of the Security Council itself would suggest it will get nowhere. Brown and others have urged reform and recapitalization of the Bretton Woods international financial institutions (IFIs), with a much greater role handed to the International Monetary Fund, to which Japan, quietly re-establishing the credibility in international financial debates it had in the 1980s, has pledged $100 billion. But reform of the IFIs, especially to give more weight to the views of developing economies (a key theme of Davos, with the chorus led by South Africa's finance minister Trevor Manuel) has been on the international agenda for the better part of two decades, to little evident effect. And then there is this week's issue: should the pay of bankers whose firms are being bailed out be limited, as the Obama Administration in the U.S. has said it plans to do?