US GLOBAL FINANCE INITIATIVE RECEIVES A MIXED REACTION

US GLOBAL FINANCE INITIATIVE RECEIVES A MIXED REACTION

A new initiative launched by Washington to improve the global financial system in response to Asia's financial crisis has been stymied by a lack of new ideas and a lukewarm response from some key allies.

The pressure is on Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin to come up with a map for the way ahead.If he fails, an opportunity to learn the painful lessons that Asia's crisis could teach both governments and private investors may be lost, analysts said.

''They have no ideas whatsoever,'' said a government official from one of the Group of 7 industrial nations. ''I guess that's why they want to talk about it.''

Overwhelmed by the financial crisis that struck Mexico in 1994-95, leaders of major industrial countries agreed at their June 1995 summit to establish a new early warning system.

Critics say the plan was woefully inadequate and failed to forestall current troubles. Not much has happened since.

In a speech last week, Mr. Rubin again said Washington was seeking to ''develop a consensus on further steps'' with its G-7 partners and other nations linked to the Asian rescue effort. But when asked what the financial system he envisioned might look like, Mr. Rubin admitted with a laugh: ''The answer to that I do not know.''