Europe likes U.S. bailout, but has no plans to follow suit

LONDON -- Although they applauded U.S. plans to have taxpayers bail out bad bank loans, no other countries followed suit on Monday.

Members of the G-7 group of industrialized democracies, including Germany, France and Britain, said in a statement that they "strongly welcomed" the $700 billion U.S. rescue effort to prevent a collapse of the financial system.

They also said they were ready to "take whatever actions may be necessary" to ensure global stability. What they didn't say was they would jump on the bandwagon and ask their taxpayers to buy up toxic debt held by banks in their countries in a fashion similar to the United States.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on Sunday had urged other countries to follow and said he expected many to do so after the turmoil in global markets in the last two weeks. Congress is considering Paulson's plan.

The German and French governments said they see no need for a bailout, saying their banks weren't as exposed to as much bad debt as U.S. banks. Other G-7 members, Japan, Canada and Italy, also haven't seen bank failures, though their markets have been rocked by the crisis.

Ulrich Wilhelm, spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said Washington had a "special responsibility" in the year-long financial crisis that began in the U.S. subprime mortgage market. He said a U.S.-style bailout isn't "necessary at the moment" for Europe's biggest economy.

Inaction by European governments is understandable, said Mark Duckenfield, who lectures on the politics of the world economy at the London School of Economics.

"They don't have the same monumental failures as we've seen in the U.S.," he said. "They can take the attitude, 'Why not let the U.S. and the U.S. taxpayers carry the ball?' "

The news last Thursday that U.S. regulators, the White House and Congress were putting together a bailout package resulted in a big turnaround Friday on European exchanges, with stocks going up after steep dives in the days before.

Britain, home to Europe's biggest stock exchange, has been rocked more than other European nations by the crisis.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is traveling to New York Tuesday to talk with U.S. regulators about imposing greater oversight on banks and markets.

Matthew Watson, associate professor of political economics at England's University of Warwick, said he suspects that Britain could well follow and establish a government stability fund after Brown returns from the USA. He said helping stabilize Britain's panicky housing and financial markets could help Brown politically at a time his popularity has fallen.