G-20 Leaders Urge Balance for Growth

Share with others:


Print Email Read Later

MEXICO CITY -- Finance officials meeting here Monday from the world's largest economies warned that efforts to deal with debt troubles in Europe and the United States must be balanced with actions to spur the global economy.

The meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of 20 countries came as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development forecast that the euro zone economies would endure a third year of recession in 2014.

But over the past six months concern over economic risk has spread from the focus on the euro zone's sovereign debt crisis to a wider array of problems, including Washington's political stalemate over its persistent deficits, Japan's debt burden and slowing growth in China and other emerging markets.

"The economic context remains difficult, and the fragile recovery remains at risk if the needed policy actions are not implemented," said the International Monetary Fund's managing director, Christine Lagarde, at the end of the two-day meeting.

Ms. Lagarde listed several countries and regions where she said policy makers needed to act quickly, beginning with the United States "first and foremost," where a $600 billion package of tax increases and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff are to take effect on Jan. 1.

Analysts fear that if the measures go into effect as planned, the United States economy could tip into recession, dragging global growth down with it.

Europe "remains a challenge," Ms. Lagarde continued, and Japan needs to take action on its debt. "It is my impression over the last few days that the membership has shared a sense of urgency," she added.

Striking the balance between reining in deficits without harming growth was the principal theme at the meeting here.

While the final communiqué contained a pledge that the group's members "ensure our public finances are on sustainable paths," it also opened up space for countries to adjust their budgets to support recovery.

"We have weak growth and high risk," Finance Minister Felipe Larrain of Chile said of the global economy. Chile attended the talks as an observer. "This is a very delicate equilibrium."

"There is nothing more important to the global economy than to lift growth in the world's major advanced economies," the Australian treasurer, Wayne Swan, said in a prepared statement released by Reuters.

As expected, the meeting, which took place just before the presidential election in the United States and as China begins its leadership transition, produced no major decisions, Indeed, several important players skipped the meeting, among them Timothy F. Geithner, the American Treasury secretary, and Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank president.

With recession and weak growth in Europe and the United States, emerging markets will account for much of the world's forecast growth of 3.6 percent next year. For their part, though, officials in developing countries are concerned about monetary easing in advanced economies that can push up their exchange rates, making their exports more expensive.

The meeting turned attention to a 2010 pledge the group's members made in Toronto to halve their deficits by the end of next year. Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble of Germany told the group that Germany and the euro zone as a whole were on track to meeting those targets. Other countries, including the United States, are much further off, though.

In response to the concerns about the approaching fiscal cliff, the final communiqué included a commitment from the United States to "carefully calibrate the pace of fiscal tightening."

Ministers also discussed financial industry regulation. A series of measures, known as Basel III, intended to shore up banks' capital reserves to protect against future financial crises are supposed to go into effect on Jan. 1. But several countries, including the United States, the European Union and Britain, are unlikely to meet the deadline.

Mr. Schäuble and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne of Britain called for international cooperation on harmonizing corporate tax collection, leading a drive by several G-20 countries, including the United States. Larger multinational companies have been able to take advantage of e-commerce to lower their tax burdens by shifting their profits to lower-tax countries, the ministers said.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

You have 2 remaining free articles this month

Try unlimited digital access

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here

You’ve reached the limit of free articles this month.

To continue unlimited reading

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here