HIGHLIGHTS-IMF, World Bank, G20 meetings in Washington
WASHINGTON, April 19 (Reuters) - The following are comments on Friday from finance officials in Washington for the semiannual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and a meeting of Group of 20 leaders. GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE ON EUROPEAN BANKING UNION: "The German government is willing to change the treaties: the sooner, the better." "The German government is strongly determined to go this way." "It is also possible to act with limited treaty changes." "But to think, one should do it the easy way, because it is too difficult, is the wrong way." BRAZIL FINANCE MINISTER MANTEGA ON WHY DEFICIT TARGETS TAKEN OFF G20 AGENDA: "There was a proposal for advanced countries to establish tight fiscal targets. The proposal came primarily from some European countries, but this was not accepted by other (G20) countries because it would only lead to a continuation of Europe's recession." OECD SECRETARY-GENERAL ANGEL GURRIA ON MARKETS, ECONOMY: "Global financial markets show signs of renewed exuberance that (are) increasingly out of line with fundamentals. This gaping disconnect between the financial sector and the real economy should be a source of concern." "As a self-sustained recovery is not fully assured, bold policy action to support activity remains necessary in all major OECD economies." U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY JACK LEW ON GLOBAL ECONOMY: "This is not a time for complacency. Tail risks have receded recently, but global growth remains weak, and unemployment is still too high. Strengthening global demand is imperative and must be at the top of our agenda." "Stronger demand in Europe is critical to global growth. ... There is a welcome debate in Europe on how better to support demand through an appropriate mix of macro tools, recalibrating the pace of fiscal consolidation, reducing financial fragmentation, and rebalancing." LEW ON FOREIGN EXCHANGE INTERVENTION: "There continues to be a need for a more rigorous emphasis on excessive foreign exchange intervention and reserves accumulation in bilateral surveillance. We encourage all IMF members to be transparent with respect to foreign exchange intervention and reserves composition." JAPANESE FINANCE MINISTER TARO ASO ON BOJ POLICY: "To say that a cheap yen is our goal will grossly miss the point." "The big D - deflation - is too difficult and too persistent to get rid of. We must to use every possible means (to beat it). At the end of the day, a shrinking Japan can only do harm to the world." "We've gained understanding from the global community that the Bank of Japan's monetary easing isn't aimed at manipulating currency rates but at ending prolonged deflation." "The G20 agreed to refrain from competitive devaluation and to avoid targeting exchange rates for competitive purposes. ... Japan commits to this too." (Asked about U.S. automakers' complaints that the yen is left disproportionately weak) "Japan suffered hugely when the collapse of Lehman Brothers pushed up the yen to around 75 to the dollar from around 108. That time Japan was running a trade surplus. It's running a huge trade deficit for the past year or so. Therefore, I don't understand why there would be criticism that the yen is left disproportionately weak." BOJ GOVERNOR HARUHIKO KURODA ON BOJ MONETARY POLICY: "We were able to gain broad recognition that our monetary easing steps were necessary to beat deflation. But some emerging nations said the spill-over effects of such policies warrant attention." "I don't think that was directed specifically at the BOJ's policy. Rather, there was talk about how the massive monetary stimulus of advanced economies, if prolonged, could have some kind of side-effects in the future. There wasn't any discussion on details of the side-effects. "Discussions centered on how emerging nations could be affected when such huge monetary stimulus are withdrawn in the future." CANADIAN FINANCE MINISTER JIM FLAHERTY ON DEBT/DEFICIT TARGETS: "Quite frankly, the language could have been stronger but it's sufficient to move this forward in terms of fiscal strategies to the St. Petersburg summit. The key was to maintain the continuity with respect to fiscal targets from the Toronto Summit to Los Cabos to St. Petersburg, and I think we've succeeded in doing that." When asked if he would agree to a target of 60 percent debt-to-GDP: "That target or a better one. We in Canada support targets." "That's a decision for each country to make because countries are in different situations so some may be more ambitious than others, but I think it's sensible for the G20 to set minimum targets." INDIA FINANCE MINISTER P. CHIDAMBARAM ON EUROPE/RICH WORLDS: "Unless Europe gets its act together and unless the green shoots that we see in the U.S. actually flower and become solid plants and unless Japan does the near impossible task of reflating its economy and having inflation of 2 percent - unless these major economies show life and growth, how is it that developing and emerging market economies can achieve high growth?" CHIDAMBARAM ON QE IN U.S., EUROPE: "Europe adopted quantitative easing and the U.S. adopted quantitative easing. We are concerned about what happens if they withdraw from quantitative easing - that's our present concern." "Quantitative easing does spur capital outflows out of those countries, which come as capital inflows into emerging markets like India." "The question is when the direction turns or changes or reverses, then what happens? We'll have to be very watchful about that." CHIDAMBARAM ON JAPAN: "If it's difficult to bring down inflation to a targeted rate of inflation, people have told me it's more difficult to approach the target of inflation from below and bring it up. That's not been tried or tested in many countries in the past. Japan is embarked up on a very novel experiment and we wish them well." "Japan's growth is good for India. Stagnation in Japan is not good for India. We want Japan to grow." BRAZIL CENTRAL BANK DEPUTY GOVERNOR LUIZ PEREIRA ON INFLATION AND MONETARY POLICY: "We had a food shock in the middle of 2012, this was compounded by an exchange rate impact at the end of 2012. But naturally we have also to take into account the strength of demand, particularly services inflation in Brazil. And therefore this is producing a high, diffuse, persistent inflationary dynamics in Brazil. And therefore naturally, given all that, policy action should help to return inflation to target." IMF MANAGING DIRECTOR CHRISTINE LAGARDE, ON WHETHER BRITAIN SHOULD SHOW MORE FLEXIBILITY IN ITS AUSTERITY PUSH: "We are saying with this medium-term, strong anchoring of fiscal consolidation, the pace has to be adjusted depending on the circumstances and given the weak growth that we have observed lately ... now might be the time to consider." LAGARDE ON CHINA'S CURRENCY: "The Chinese currency has been following a trend which in our view is appropriate. It has been appreciating gradually over time. We see it ... as moderately under-appreciated which, I am reassured by Chinese authorities, will continue to be addressed in coming months." G20 COMMUNIQUE ON MONETARY POLICY: Monetary policy should be directed toward domestic price stability and continuing to support economic recovery according to the respective mandates of central banks. We will be mindful of unintended negative side effects stemming from extended periods of monetary easing. G20 COMMUNIQUE ON FISCAL POLICY: "Maintaining fiscal sustainability in advanced economies remains essential. Advanced economies will develop medium-term fiscal strategies by the time of the St Petersburg Summit in line with the commitments made by our Leaders in Los Cabos. We will present and review our strategies at our next meeting." G20 COMMUNIQUE ON ECONOMIC RECOVERY: "The global economy has avoided some major tail risks and financial market conditions continue to improve. However, global growth has continued to be too weak and unemployment remains too high in many countries. The recovery remains uneven and is progressing at different speeds with emerging markets experiencing relatively strong growth, the United States demonstrating a gradual strengthening of private demand, and the recovery in the euro area as a whole yet to materialize. Policy uncertainty, private deleveraging, fiscal drag, impaired credit intermediation, and a still incomplete rebalancing of global demand continue to weigh on global growth prospects. " RUSSIAN MINISTER OF FINANCE AND G20 CHAIR ANTON SILUANOV ON DEBT TARGETS: "We all agreed that there is no need to set hard targets ... and we agreed that these would be soft parameters, these would be some kind of strategic objectives and goals which might be amended or adjusted, depending on the specific situations in the national economies." SILUANOV ON JAPANESE MONETARY POLICY: "The matter of quantitative easing in Japan was in fact discussed, but not with the same amount of caution as it was this past February. In fact the matter was discussed in a very calm manner. The thing is that it is necessary to withdraw from inflation, which is something we have discussed already, for which information must be monitored so that such monetary easing will not result in continuing growth of interest rates and inflation, which would be very painful for the Japanese public debt..." GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE ON GROWTH RAGES: "Nobody should expect that Europe will deliver high growth rates the coming years." "In Germany I do not expect a sustainable growth of beyond 1.5 pct in the next few years." SCHAEUBLE ON ITALY: "Italy is much more flexible than Germany..I trust that Italy will always find a solution...Italy is economically "not my biggest concern." SCHAEUBLE ON EUROPE: "There is not a crunch of credit in Europe." "We will not rely on monetary policy" (to solve our problems). INDIA FINANCE MINISTER P. CHIDAMBARAM ON G20 POLICY MEETING "It was supposed to be a G20 meeting, but for a moment I thought it was a G7 meeting. All that we heard was how sick Europe is and how badly affected many countries of the world are." "They have a very accommodative monetary policy. They are doing whatever it takes to rescue economies that seem to be tumbling one after another." "Unless Europe gets its act together and unless the green shoots that we see in the U.S. actually flower and become solid plants and unless Japan does the near impossible task of reflating its economy and having inflation of 2 percent - unless these major economies show life and growth, how is it that developing and emerging market economies can achieve high growth?" IMF ASIA AND PACIFIC DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR ANOOP SINGH ON JAPAN'S MONETARY POLICY: "In Japan, the new quantitative and qualitative monetary easing policy is welcome as it aims to achieve domestic goals of ending deflation and raising growth. But it needs to be complemented by an ambitious fiscal sustainability and growth strategy to revive the economy on a sustained basis." "Competitive devaluations - I don't think this is a really big issue." BRAZIL'S FINANCE MINISTER GUIDO MANTEGA ON JAPAN'S ECONOMIC PROGRAM: "The Japanese government has recently launched a new and bold program of economic growth, based on fiscal and monetary stimulus and structural reforms. Naturally, the effects on financial markets, especially foreign exchange markets, occurred almost immediately, with the depreciation of the yen being most noticed. If fiscal measures are indeed implemented, especially those that rapidly stimulate domestic demand, we should expect a more balanced policy mix, contributing positively to the world economy." MANTEGA ON CONCERNS OVER ADVANCED NATIONS' POLICIES: "I remain concerned with the macro policy mix in most advanced countries. Expansionary fiscal policy can be more effective than monetary policy as a tool to rekindle demand and activity." MANTEGA ON RISK OF PROLONGED CRISIS: "There is a risk of a prolonged crisis, despite all our efforts in the G20 and other international forums." MANTEGA ON CAPITAL CONTROLS: "Emerging markets may also need to rely on 'unconventional' measures. By including capital controls in our tool-box, we can avoid over-burdening fiscal, monetary and exchange rate policies. ... The IMF has to be supportive of this approach, not just tolerate it reluctantly." BUNDESBANK PRESIDENT JENS WEIDMANN ON JAPAN'S MONETARY EASING: "I think it was important, that from many sides it was underlined, that the G20-Communique from Moscow said, monetary policy should not aim at manipulating exchange-rates and cause competitive devaluations." GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE ON G20 DISCUSSION ABOUT JAPAN MONETARY EASING: "Everyone agreed that it could only be temporary." SCHAEUBLE ON LIQUIDITY IN EMERGING MARKETS: "It was quite clear that there was concern among emerging-countries because of the huge liquidity glut in the world. ... We have to take this concern very serious." RUSSIAN FINANCE MINISTER ANTON SILUANOV ON DEBT-TO-GDP RATIOS: "For the level of government debt, the discussion is not about specific targets. ... Colleagues said that if we make strict targets for fiscal consolidation, it reduces the room for maneuver for fiscal policy. So on the whole, I believe we will find a compromise about the formulation, that it should be a general goal we'll all be striving for, and not a strict parameter. ... All countries will have different ones." SILUANOV ON G20 DISCUSSION THURSDAY NIGHT ON JAPAN'S MONETARY EASING POLICY: "There was no sharp discussion. Rather, everyone was understanding about Japan's policies. After 15 years of deflation, 15 years of no growth, they need to kickstart (the economy). So they want to slightly raise their growth (rate), and fight deflation."