WASHINGTON – World leaders edged closer to an agreement Saturday that would flag risky investing and regulatory weak spots, with US President George W. Bush welcoming the progress at an emergency economic summit.
Nearly two dozen foreign leaders got down to work at the largest gathering of its kind in nearly a decade. A chief goal was charting a map to avoid future financial meltdowns like the one now imperiling the global economy.
Under the glare of an intense spotlight, the leaders needed to be careful not to let the talks become a blame game, which could further roil the fragile markets.
A major issue at the summit was whether all nations should pledge to enact government spending plans to stimulate their economies. It appeared likely the leaders would endorse the benefits of such approaches, but stop short of a commitment for all participants to act at the same time.
Bush and his counterparts prepared to endorse a plan for more openness in financial markets and an early warning system for problems such as the speculation frenzy that fed the U.S. housing bubble.
"I am pleased that we are discussing a way forward to make sure that such a crisis is unlikely to occur again," Bush said as discussed got under way. "Obviously, you know, this crisis has not ended. There's some progress being made, but there's still a lot more work to be done."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters that the leaders will achieve consensus on a plan "that includes almost 50 actions that have to be implemented by the end of March." She added, "The point is that all actors on the market, all products and all markets shall be really regulated and surveyed."
The plan would include measures aimed at making the global financial system more accountable to investors and more transparent to regulators, diplomatic officials said.
It would improve international monitoring of markets and bolster rules governing how companies value their assets, a current weakness seen as partly responsible for the financial crisis at hand. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because leaders had yet to agree on their final statement.
While the emerging plan would boost oversight of fragile financial markets, it would fall short of the sweeping set of tough new regulations some Europeans want.