Sarkozy on financial crisis: "laissez-faire" finished

PARIS (AP) -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy says the world came within "a whisker of catastrophe" during the recent financial crisis and those responsible for it must be held accountable.

In his first major public address on the crisis, Sarkozy also criticized "abuses and scandals" involving executive pay. He promised that the French government would step in to halt these practices unless executives come up with their own solution.

Sarkozy said "laissez-faire" economics, "self-regulation" and the view that "the all-powerful market" always knows best are finished. And he says the world cannot run that risk of a financial catastrophe happening again.

The French leader also warned that "the crisis is not finished" and said the consequences will be felt in the coming months on economic growth, unemployment and people's spending power.

France's economy shrank by 0.3 percent in the second quarter.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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