StanChart Anti-U.S. Rant Will Resonate

Agenda-Setting Financial Insight.
Aug. 8 2012 2:42 PM

StanChart Anti-U.S. Rant Will Resonate

149922446
An unnamed banker's charmless F-bomb attack on Americans will rankle domestically, but may resonate further afield.

Photo by PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/GettyImages

The stand-out quote in the New York financial regulator’s attack on Standard Chartered is the description of an unnamed banker allegedly railing at “f—ing Americans” who “tell us, the rest of the world, that we’re not going to deal with Iranians”. This charmless F-bomb will rankle domestically, but may resonate further afield.

The U.S. approach to international finance is “our market, our rules”. That’s understandable. But effectively the United States sets the global standard, since few big banks can avoid selling to Americans, hiring them or trading in their currency.

Advertisement

Lately, the U.S. has been making greater use of its economic leverage. The Volcker Rule on financial services will crimp the activities of non-U.S. banks with a U.S. presence. New tax rules, known as FATCA, are designed to get non-US institutions to share information with U.S. regulators, without any respect for local bank secrecy laws. And American sanctions against Iran cast a wide net, including Standard Chartered’s dollar-denominated business with the Islamic Republic.

Americans often see their international reach as right and just. Others see it as arbitrary meddling. Up to now, though, the debate is academic. What the economic superpower wants, it still gets.

That could change, if there is enough opposition. The Americans should take note of the EU’s effort to impose an extraterritorial airline carbon levy. Even though Brussels represents a market with a larger GDP than the United States, it is likely to yield to opposition from an alliance of seventeen countries, including the United States and China.

When the StanChart exec allegedly let rip in 2006, defying the United States seemed far-fetched. Now, China and Russia openly discuss a world where the United States doesn’t set the rules. In direct response to dollar dominance, China is trying to make the yuan global enough to allow greenback-free international trade. Big banks, including StanChart, are enthusiastic.

Critics of the U.S. way should be careful what they wish for. As future dominant superpowers, China and India may also want to govern beyond their borders. But for now, StanChart’s anonymous banker isn’t the only one feeling frustrated. 

Read more at Reuters Breakingviews.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 16 2014 11:46 PM The Scariest Campfire Story More horrifying than bears, snakes, or hook-handed killers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.