Former Finance Ministers Speak Their Minds at Summit

Global financial leaders have convened for a conference at the University of Virginia, hoping to design a blueprint for solving shared economic problems—such as the subprime mortgage crisis and rising fuel and food costs.

Watch the videos below for interviews with conference attendees by CNBC Senior Economics Reporter Steve Liesman.

International Economy

“I think [the take over of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae] was a very important move and it was probably necessary to calm down the markets. It also opens some questions for the future—what will the U.S. authorities are going to do with Fannie and Freddie . We hope that these decisions will be followed by changes in the regulation.”

—Rodrigo de Rato, former Spanish Minister of Finance

“The U.S. economy is so large that the impact of the problems is felt around the world—not just in the financial system, but in the real economy as well. And the fear that everybody had was that without a resolution, of Fannie and Freddie, the U.S. housing market was going to further weaken and that has deep implications for the real economy.”

—John Manley, former Canadian Finance Minister

“The best regime is one that allows market forces, not ministers setting the exchange rates of currencies. And it’s proving out right now. Because the one source of growth in the United States economy today is exports. And there’s been a commentary about “will we have a dollar crisis?” But I think the response to that is: think of the crisis we’d have if the dollar wasn’t performing its role.”

—John Snow, Chairman of Cerberus capital Management and Former Treasury Secretary

The Global Economy

“Our biggest problem is that some of our trading partners have a weak economy and therefore our exports also begin to weaken. And the second problem is that the domestic demand, especially private consumption, is low. This means that the incomes are low too.”

—Hans Eichel, former German Minister of Finance

“Europe is made of very different countries—there are countries with high leverage, high private debt, such as Spain or England, where the situation is probably worse or difficult for homeowners. But for countries like Italy with less leverage, the situation is a bit better. All in all however, we’re headed for zero-growth which is a problem.”

—Domenico Siniscalo, former Italian Minister of Finance and Morgan Stanley International Vice Chairman