Group of 20 vows to allow markets to set money rates

Share with others:


Print Email Read Later

MOSCOW -- In a concerted move to quiet fears of a so-called currency war, finance officials from the world's largest industrial and emerging economies expressed their commitment on Saturday to "market-determined exchange rate systems and exchange rate flexibility."

In a statement issued at the conclusion of a conference in the Russian capital of the Group of 20, the finance ministers promised: "We will refrain from competitive devaluation. We will not target our exchange rates for competitive purposes."

In its statement, the group also vowed to "take necessary collective actions" to discourage corporate tax evasion, particularly by preventing companies from shifting profits to avoid tax obligations. For instance, a number of big American companies, including Apple and Starbucks, have come under scrutiny recently for seeking out the friendliest tax jurisdictions.

Overall, the statement largely echoed one last week by seven top industrial nations pledging to let market exchange rates determine the value of their currencies. Currency devaluation can be used to gain competitive advantage because it makes a country's exports cheaper.

"We all agreed on the fact that we refuse to enter any currency war," the French finance minister, Pierre Moscovici, told reporters at the conference, which was held in a meeting center just a short walk from the Kremlin and Red Square.

In the statement on Saturday, the Group of 20 pointedly avoided any criticism of Japan, where stimulus programs backed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have kept interest rates near zero and flooded the economy with money -- leading to a roughly 15 percent drop in the value of the yen against the dollar over the last three months.

The Japanese policies, which have reduced the cost of Japanese products around the world, were the primary cause of fears of a currency war.

In essence, the Group of 20 expressed a view that loose monetary policy, including steps that weaken currency values, are acceptable when used to stimulate domestic growth but should not be used to benefit in global trade.

Critics of that view say that it amounts to a distinction without a difference because loose monetary policies stimulate growth and bolster exports at the same time.

The United States has also used a loose monetary approach to aid in the economic recovery, in the form of "quantitative easing" by which the Federal Reserve buys tens of billions of dollars in bonds each month.

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, who attended the conference in Moscow, gave brief remarks Friday indicating support for Japan's efforts.

Faster-growing, developing countries like Brazil and China have expressed concerns about the loose monetary policies of more established economies like Japan and the United States. The money created by policies like the Fed's quantitative easing can prove destabilizing as it enters faster-growing economies.

The Group of 20 acknowledged this concern in its statement, saying: "Monetary policy should be directed toward domestic price stability and continuing to support economic recovery according to the respective mandates. We commit to monitor and minimize the negative spillovers on other countries of policies implemented for domestic purposes."

As the three-day conference drew to a close, participants did not reach any new agreement on debt-cutting targets. Efforts to reach such a pact will continue at the annual Group of 20 summit meeting to be attended by President Barack Obama and other world leaders in St. Petersburg in September.

But while the debt agreement was elusive, the Group of 20 leaders reiterated efforts to work together, promising to "resist all forms of protections and keep our markets open."

world


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