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He was noncommittal about whether the Treasury Department would adopt a suggestion by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown that governments guarantee interbank lending - the flow of money between banks that is key to keeping the credit markets oiled.

“When we look at the G-7, we have very different countries, economies of different sizes, financial systems with different needs,” he said, “and so it would not make sense to have identical policies.”

Those countries that have challenged what they see as a U.S.-built and U.S.-dominated financial system are claiming vindication. Populist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, backed by the country’s immense oil reserves, said his country is positioned to ride out the crisis.

“There’s a specter that is going around the developed world that was of its own making,” Mr. Chavez said at an economics conference in Caracas Thursday. “It’s like a Frankenstein.”