Germany says US to lose financial superpower status

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany blamed the Anglo-Saxon capitalist model on Thursday for spawning the global financial crisis, saying the United States would lose its financial superpower status and have to accept greater market regulation.

In unusually stark language, German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck told parliament the financial crisis would leave "deep marks" and proposed eight measures to address it, including a ban on speculative short-selling and an increase in bank capital requirements to offset credit risks.

"The world will never be as it was before the crisis," Steinbrueck, a deputy leader of the centre-left Social Democrats, told the Bundestag lower house.

"The United States will lose its superpower status in the world financial system. The world financial system will become more multi-polar," he said.

Steinbrueck lay the blame for the crisis squarely on the United States and what he called an Anglo-Saxon drive for double-digit profits and massive bonuses for bankers and company executives.

"Investment bankers and politicians in New York, Washington and London were not willing to give these up," he said. "Wall Street will never be what it was."

The collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers and financial woes of other financial institutions like insurer AIG has prompted the U.S. government to unveil a $700 billion rescue package for the country's financial sector.

Steinbrueck said it was neither necessary nor wise for Germany to replicate the U.S. plan for its own institutions.

The German Bundesbank said earlier this week that the financial market turbulence would hit the earnings of Germany's big commercial lenders, its publicly-owned Landesbanks and its cooperative banks.

Tighter credit in the wake of the crisis could also constrain household consumption and corporate investment, increasing the likelihood the German economy will fall into recession this year.

But Steinbrueck said German regulator Bafin believed German banks could cope with losses and ensure the safety of private savings.

He said the crisis showed the need for a greater state role in setting the rules for markets and called the turmoil primarily an American problem.

"The financial crisis is above all an American problem. The other G7 financial ministers in continental Europe share this opinion," he said.

"This system, which is to a large degree insufficiently regulated, is now collapsing -- with far-reaching consequences for the U.S. financial market and considerable contagion effects for the rest of the world," Steinbrueck added.
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