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By Quentin Peel
T he man at the eye of the financial storm that has engulfed the euro has learnt to be patient after 20 years confined to a wheelchair. But Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s finance minister, is also a man in a hurry.
He wants urgently to rewrite the rulebook of the eurozone to prevent any such crisis happening again, and at the same time to revive the momentum of international negotiations on tougher regulation of financial markets. He has returned to the idea of an international financial transaction tax, to make financial institutions share in the costs of the crisis, even if it can be agreed only inside the European Union.
He admits that the greatest problem affecting the markets is one of trust in the ability of the EU, and especially the 16 members of the common currency area at its heart, to bring their debt and deficits under control as they have promised. “That is the task we must perform,” he tells the Financial Times aboard his Luftwaffe Challenger jet bound for Berlin. “But that doesn’t alter the fact that financial market regulation is also necessary.
“I’m convinced the markets are really out of control. That is why we need really effective regulation, in the sense of creating a properly functioning market mechanism.”