This weekend some basic decisions have to be made. The first is whether to give the bailouts time to work, to increase the packages or to accept that they have failed and move to the next step. The next step is for governments and central banks to take over decision making from financial institutions, and cause them to lend. This can be done in one of two ways. The first is to guarantee the loans made between financial institutions so that solvency is not an issue and risk is eliminated. The second is to directly take over the lending process, with the state dictating how much is lent to whom. In a real sense, the distinction between the two is not as significant as it appears. The market is abolished and wealth is distributed through mechanisms created by the state, with risk eliminated from the system, or more precisely, transferred from the lender to the taxing authority of the state.
The more complex issue is how to manage this on an international scale. For example, American banks lend to European banks. If the United States comes up with a plan which guarantees loans to U.S. banks but not European banks, and Europeans lend to Europe and not the United States, the integration of the global economy will very quickly shatter, leading to significant limitations on international trade, currency convertibility and so on. You will nationalize economies that canít stand being purely national.
At the same time, there is no global mechanism for managing radical solutions. In taking over lending or guarantees, the administrative structure is everything. Managing the interbank-lending of the global economy is something for which there is no institution. And even with coordination, finance ministries and central banks would find it difficult to bear the burden ó not to mention managing the systemís Herculean size and labyrinthine complexity. But if the G-7 in effect nationalize global financial systems and do it without international understandings and coordination, the consequences will be immediate and serious.