European Leaders Call for Greater Transparency

Key European leaders are calling for greater transparency in world financial markets, meeting Tuesday in London to discuss how they can rescue the turbulent global economy.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is hosting French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Premier Romano Prodi and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso for talks on the international credit crunch.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Simon Dawson
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The meeting of Barroso and the European members of the Group of Eight industrialized nations comes ahead of talks between finance ministers of G-7 countries Feb. 9 in Tokyo.

Leaders want a better international system for sharing information that can be used to help prevent future financial crises.

Brown has felt the sting of the credit crunch caused by the collapse of the U.S. subprime mortgage market, with the first run on a British bank since 1866 after Northern Rock issued a profit warning and appealed to the Bank of England for an emergency loan.

In France, authorities have uncovered the alleged largest-ever trading fraud by a single person. Trader Jerome Kerviel is accused of costing French bank Societe Generale around 4.82 billion euros ($7.09 billion).

Merkel has said the German government is watching the situation but has cautioned against actions that could threaten jobs.

Brown's spokesman Michael Ellam said the group would also likely discuss the role of ratings agencies in financial markets.

In a joint declaration by Britain, France and Germany in October, the nations urged improvements to information available on securitized debt and illiquid assets, such as mortgages.

The British leader last week called for reforms of the International Monetary Fund -- saying it should be remodeled to act as a key scrutinizer of the world economy.

European Union spokesman Johannes Laitenberger insisted Monday that the work on reform is under way.

"There is a roadmap for meeting the challenges on financial markets, we've been working on that in the autumn months," he said. "The fundamentals of the European economy remain very healthy"