In Search of Financial Prozac

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Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin aren't exactly modest in their agenda for Monday's meeting with their international counterparts: Saving the world economy is topic No. 1. But the rising tide of economic nationalism won't make their mission any easier. President Clinton believes the global economy now faces its greatest crisis since 1929 -- and if governments back then had had the ability to anticipate the crisis, things might have turned out differently. "We don't have to have a worldwide recession if those of us that enjoy growth will take the initiative and move now," Clinton said on Friday. "But we just cannot afford to dally around here."

Monday's meeting will discuss a new international financial fire brigade to replace the IMF -- recent experience suggests the institution created after World War II may not be adequate in the face of the current crisis. "There's a realization now that unlike 1929, we don't have to wait for society to collapse before we make adjustments," says TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell. The growing trend in Russia, Asia and elsewhere to retreat from the path of open markets is causing concern, however. "There's a new wave of protectionism on the rise, and that's exactly what triggered the Depression in 1929," says Dowell. So expect Monday's session to get pretty heated for a bankers' convention.