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US No Longer Financial Superpower?


GDP revised downward.

Minyanville's Why Wall Street Will Never Be the SameThe United States will lose its status as the global financial superpower in the current economic crisis, Germany's financial minister says.

Peer Steinbruck says better capitalized financial centers in Europe and Asia will emerge, making the financial world multi-polar, the Financial Times reports.

"The world will never be the same again," Steinbruck told the German parliament.

Speaking later to reporters, Germany's finance minister said, "When we look back 10 years from now, we will see 2008 as a fundamental rupture. I am not saying the dollar will lose its reserve currency status, but it will become relative."

The minister criticized the US government for opposing tougher regulations after the sub-prime mortgage mess became apparent last summer.

Steinbruck said the idea that markets should remain as free as possible from regulatory oversight "was a simplistic as it was dangerous."

The US economy grew slower in the second quarter than previously believed, as consumers cut back and many businesses reduced spending, the US Commerce Department says, revising it.

The Gross Domestic Product, the total of all goods and services produced in the US, grew 2.8% in the second quarter, down from the 3.3% estimate made a month ago. Real GDP grew 0.9% in the first quarter.

Second-quarter growth was based on exports, personal consumption, non-residential structures and government spending. However, expenditures declined in inventory, residential investment, equipment and software. Imports, a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, fell.

Personal spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of the nation's economic activity, grew at a revised 1.2% rather than the 1.7% previously estimated. Spending for durable goods, including cars, fell more sharply than the original estimate.

Companies are also reducing costs. Spending on equipment and software, often an indicator of planned production increases, shrank 5% rather than the 3.2% previously estimated. Equipment and software spending expenditures fell for the second quarter in a row and was the sharpest decline for any quarter since the first quarter of 2002.

The finance minister did praise US crisis management in the last 2 weeks, including a planned $700 billion rescue package for the financial sector now being debated in Congress.

Steinbruck said Washington acted in its interest and in the interest of other nations. However, he blamed Washington for refusing to consider proposals Berlin had made last year and the Group of Eight Industrial nations.

Steinbruck's proposal includes a ban on speculative short selling; limiting variable pay for bank managers which he believes has encouraged undue risk-taking; a ban on banks securitizing more than 80% of it debt and international standards making bank managers personally responsible for the consequences of their trades.

Steinbruck's comments followed calls by French President Nicholas Sarkozy and current holder of the European Union presidency for an emergency G8 meeting to discuss the crisis.
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