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Banks want political lead, rate cuts for crisis

Financial newsWestern governments and central banks faced demands for coordinated action on Tuesday after Australia responded to the escalating global financial crisis by cutting its interest rates sharply.

Equities across much of Asia and commodity prices rallied after the Australian central bank slashed its benchmark cash rate by 100 basis points, the biggest single cut since 1992. Investors hoped that central banks in Europe and the United States could follow suit.

European stock markets, which suffered record losses on Monday, opened higher on Tuesday on hopes of cheaper borrowing. However, Japan's Nikkei share average ended at a five-year low as the panic that swept through Europe and the United States on Monday hit Tokyo.

U.S. officials have called for a "forceful and coordinated" global reaction to kickstart anemic bank lending but such a unified approach remains elusive.

European Union finance ministers meet in Luxembourg on Tuesday to try to flesh out promises to counter market mayhem and ensure no savers lose any money. The EU has been criticized for its fragmented response to the crisis and the way individual countries have broken ranks with deposit guarantees.

"We need to find a common solution as one country's solution may be another country's problem," said Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg. The banking upheaval that began on Wall Street has effectively shut down interbank and other loan markets, pushing industrialized countries closer to recession. Conditions remained poor for interbank lending.

Date: 07.10.2008 [197]

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