Heard in Davos 2010: Dispatches from the Conference

Barney Frank: Talking Taxes

One of the busiest early sessions on WEF’s opening day, the CNBC debate “Back to the Future: The Next Global Crisis”, had big names on the panel and the audience.

Barney Frank

But Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Banking Committee was the biggest hit in terms of laughs and fired off the best line of the morning during a discussion of how to deal with the current economic crisis and deal with sovereign debt problems.

“I am going to go back and try to raise the taxes of most people who attended here,” he said.

That’s the high-income bracket, or as Frank puts it, raising taxes “on the appropriate people and the appropriate way.”

Frank, part of a six-person panel, played to the international audience as he sometimes does to Congress, addressing his “liberal friends.” He strongly supported a cut in military spending to cut debt.

The reason we’re in this mess is that “someone decided to get the joint Nobel prize for economics and fiction with the theory that you could finance two wars with five tax cuts,” he said.

When the cameras stopped rolling he asked the crowd if he had done enough to win a slot as a judge on “American Idol.”

But then he’d have to appear regularly on Fox.

Other top quotes from the debate:

Kenneth Rogoff, Harvard Economics Professor:

“A wave of international banking crises is often followed by a wave of sovereign debt crises.”

“Countries like the United States and Britain, I’m not talking about default, but very high political prices, belt tightening, higher taxes, slower growth.”

Zhu Min, People’s Bank of China Deputy Governor

“The risk for a sovereign debt crisis is real.”

“For this coming year the real risk for the global economy is very weak and volatile economic growth.”

Lord Levene, Chairman of Lloyd’s

“Sarbanes Oxley was a huge success, not for New York and Wall Street, but for London and the City.”

“We wanted to build a statue to Messrs. Sarbanes and Oxley for sending so much business to us.”

Jacob Frenkel, Chairman of JPMorgan Chase International

“If there is one proposition that is universally agreed upon in history, it is that free trade is a win-win proposition.”

Protectionism “is a state of mind, thinking that globalization is bad, that emerging markets should be separated from us, that China is a threat and not an opportunity.”

Anand Mahindra, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Mahindra & Mahindra

[Obama] “hasn’t even said bring ‘back Glass-Steagle,’ even though he ought to. At least Son of Glass-Steagle should come back.”

“U.S. companies will become uncompetative if they are taxed for outsourcing.”