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AP: David Cameron likes US bank proposals

AP: David Cameron likes US bank proposals

British Conservative leader David Cameron on Thursday endorsed the latest U.S. proposals to make banks repay some of the costs of the public bailout that saved the financial system last year, and told The Associated Press that as prime minister he would go toe-to-toe with British bankers to bring them in line.
In the interview, Cameron also told The AP that British troops in Afghanistan should only be withdrawn after the country has achieved a "basic level of security."
Cameron, expected by many to be Britain's next prime minister when elections are held later this year, told The Associated Press that two of President Barack Obama's new proposals to limit risky behavior by banks and to collect money from the banking industry to repay some taxpayer sacrifice would have his backing.
Cameron, leading in opinion polls to become the next British prime minister after 13 years of Labour government, said he sees the proposed steps as part of a "moral problem."
The endorsement stood in contrast to many of the bankers and financial managers attending the annual World Economic Forum here, who have been raising concerns about what is seen as a new populist mood to regulate banks. It also conflicts with the view of many Republicans in the United States, who have been cool to the Obama banking proposals.
Obama in his State of the Union address Wednesday restated why he thinks banks need more regulation to discourage reckless behavior and why a fee on banks is fair.
"We can't allow financial institutions, including those that take your deposits, to take risks that threaten the whole economy," he said. Elsewhere he noted, "If these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need."
Cameron framed the question in similar ways.
"Banks know that taxpayers will always support them, and yet they are able to take part in some extremely risky activities," Cameron said. "There are some activities like large-scale proprietary trading, taking big bets, that shouldn't be done by banks that have retail deposits."
He also agreed with the fee idea, saying he believes in "some form of bank levy so that we can make sure we pay back the money that has been lent by the taxpayers." He said he believes there should be "international agreement for this."
Cameron, 43, said he would be willing to work to persuade British bankers to accept the proposals.
"It would involve some difficult conversations, no doubt about it, but the argument should go like this: The taxpayer has put the money into the banks... The taxpayer is right to ask in return that there are some things that banks shouldn't do."
Cameron added: "This is not about the politics of envy, this is not some revenge attack. ... This is about good honest common sense, prudence (and) how we have strong and stable financial systems in our countries."
In the AP interview, Cameron said that he believes the allied efforts in Afghanistan are on track.
"We've finally got the right plan _ the proper number of troops, the proper idea about coordinating the military and the civilian side. I support what is being done both today in the London conference," he said, referring to Wednesday's conference in London of 70 countries on aid to President Hamid Karzai's government.
Cameron said the plan means "broadly increasing the troop numbers, increasing the aid, making sure the Afghan government cuts out corruption, building up the Afghan national army, so that the country can take care of its own security and we can bring our brave troops back home."
Although Obama has a target of July 2011 for starting to bring U.S. troops home, Cameron sounded less clear. "The steepness (of the build down) will depend on success," he said. "We've got to have a timetable that's about achieving success rather than drawing too many artificial deadlines in the sand."
"We all want to bring our troops home," he said, "but I think what we need first is to make sure there's a basic level of security."
Despite being a Tory while Democrats hold power in Washington, Cameron was relaxed about predicting a strong relationship should his party emerge victorious in elections that must be held before June 5 but could likely come in May.
Cameron said that Conservatives would be able to fix a "broken Britain" _ a buzz phrase used to describe a country troubled by a plethora of social woes, including high teen pregnancy rates, binge drinking, and a gang culture.
Meanwhile, incumbent Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour party has been consistently trailing in the polls.
If he becomes prime minister, the historic ties between the U.S. and Britain would remain strong, Cameron said.
"I feel it in my bones. ... It is never a problem for a Conservative to work with a Democrat," he said, referencing the long, shared history of both nations.
"It goes much deeper than politics, it is our shared interest in spreading freedom and democracy. ... It is the fact that we are on the same side of so many big arguments, whether it is stabilizing Afghanistan, whether tackling Islamic extremism in the Yemen, whether it is making sure that we make our world safer and try to stop the spread of nuclear weapons."
Cameron said that "Britain and America are on the same side of so many issues and we should work very strongly together."


Updated : 2021-05-12 23:17 GMT+08:00