Eurozone Attempts To Rein In Speculators

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European officials are cracking down on market speculators. They blame speculators for making the Greek debt crisis worse and dragging down the Euro. However, there are sharp disagreements on whether the new measures are warranted.


European officials are also trying to crack down on market speculators. They blame speculators for making the Greek debt crisis worse and dragging down the euro.

But as Teri Schultz reports from Brussels, Great Britain and the United States are protesting the EU's moves.

TERI SCHULTZ: Total transparency is now required - declares EU Commissioner for Financial Services Michel Barnier - and the commission is proposing stringent new legislation to ensure it. In particular, Barnier insists on mandatory disclosure of buyers and sellers involved in the complex credit-default swaps which are basically gambling on whether a country will go bankrupt.

Mr. MICHEL BARNIER (Commissioner, Financial Services, EU): (Through translator): We intend to deal with this matter very severely to ensure responsibility of these people using these financial products. These people don't like to come out in the light of day, so we're going to flood them with light.

SCHULTZ: In another move at European parliament, the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee just yesterday voted to block foreign hedge funds from operating here unless they get what's being called a passport. That would require registering and reporting all activities. And today, the 27 finance ministers also hashed out their version of the hedge fund bill, which will be negotiated with parliament and made into law.

Great Britain, home to 80 percent of Europe's hedge fund operators, objected to the restrictions, but was overruled by the French, Germans and others eager to see it pass.

Investment management organizations criticized the proposed laws as restricting financial opportunities for EU citizens. And U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has warned they look a lot like protectionism from his side of the Atlantic.

For NPR News, I'm Teri Schultz, in Brussels.

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