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HIGHLIGHTS-IMF, World Bank, G20 meetings in Washington
October 10, 2013 / 2:29 PM / 4 years ago

HIGHLIGHTS-IMF, World Bank, G20 meetings in Washington

WASHINGTON, Oct 10 (Reuters) - The following are comments on Thursday from
finance officials in Washington for the fall meetings of the International
Monetary Fund and World Bank, and a meeting of Group of 20 leaders.
    
 
    
    AUSTRALIAN TREASURER JOE HOCKEY
    ON PROGRESS ON U.S. FISCAL IMPASSE: 
    "This is an important step forward because it ensures that America does not
default on its debt ... I expected that such a deal would be offered which would
provide some stability for financial markets and certainly for investors."
    "It is quite clear that America has been pulled back from the brink, as
sensible people expected, that is the good news, but the fact is that America
cannot continue to sustain its current lifestyle and it needs to address some of
the structural problems it has in its budget."
    "There's an expectation (among G20 countries) that a deal will be reached.
The threat of default is so great that no sensible person would accept it as a
realistic option."
    
    ON THE G20 MEETINGS:
    "Overwhelmingly today we have been focused on the medium to longer-term
issues which are a challenge for the global economy."
    "The message is clear, as long as we continue to focus on the medium-term
challenges and not be distracted on the day to day events here in Washington
then we can have a growth trajectory for the global economy that sustains the
current level of growth and improves on that growth with further new investment
in infrastructure."

    BANK OF JAPAN GOVERNOR HARUHIKO KURODA
    ON THE U.S. DEBT CEILING IMPASSE:
    "To prolong this problem any longer would be undesirable for both the
economies of the U.S. and of the world, and therefore I would like this to be
resolved as quickly as possible. 
    "The problem needs to be cleared quickly because the United States is in a
position where it is pulling the rest of the world economy."
    
    CANADA'S FINANCE MINISTER JIM FLAHERTY
    ON WHY THE FED SHOULD TAPER QUANTITATIVE EASING NOW:
    "It's a short-term remedy that has long-term consequences and for that
reason I am not a supporter of quantitative easing."
    "It's not to say that in a time of crisis as we had several years ago that
we ought not to act, which we did, but it is to say that as long-term government
policy, these debt creations have consequences and none of them are good,
including inflation." 
    
    ON THE U.S. FISCAL IMPASSE:
    "I was very firm yesterday in the meeting with finance ministers of the
Americas that we have to realize that an American crisis is a world crisis in
economic terms. "
    "It's not funny."
        
    ON DEFICITS AND DEBT:
    "In the medium term, you've got to deal with medium-term deficits and debt
.... you can't just go on and on and on running trillions of dollars of debt
because there's a price to pay and it won't be paid by my generation it will be
paid by my children's generation, which I find offensive. 
    In Canada, whatever else we might do right or might do wrong, at least we
can run our fiscal house in some kind of order."
    
    ON THE G20
    "I worry about the efficacy of the G20. We started having these meetings in
November 2008 with President Bush as chair and I think to some extent we've lost
our way. We need to remember that the G20 is supposed to be the primary economic
forum for the world in terms of economic policy, so I'm going to emphasize that
to my colleagues tomorrow."
    
    ON RISKS IN EUROPE:
    "There was a general consensus (among finance ministers of the Americas)
that the European situation is a major challenge. It's an ongoing challenge
because a lot of the countries in Europe have not addressed their issues and we
still have major banking issues in Europe that have not been addressed." 

    PEOPLE'S BANK OF CHINA DEPUTY GOVERNOR YI GANG
    ON U.S. DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN:
    "They should have the wisdom to solve this problem as soon as possible."
    ON CHINA'S ECONOMY:
    "Now we've changed from a very-high speed of growth to a medium-high speed
of growth, which is maybe around 7 percent. But I think by world standards it is
still a very rapid growth rate."   
 
    IMF MANAGING DIRECTOR CHRISTINE LAGARDE
    ON SHIFTS IN GLOBAL ECONOMY: 
    "There has clearly been a shift in the last three months. Remember, some
three, four months ago we were all seeing the emerging market economies driving
the show, leading growth, and -- having contributed 80 percent of total growth
in the last five years -- continuing to do so.  Well, the situation has changed
as a result in particular of the hinted tapering of the monetary policy of the
Fed. And that hint of potential tapering ... has exposed the vulnerabilities of
those emerging market economies that had been the recipients of massive capital
outflows..."
    ON ASKING BRETTON WOODS COMMISSION FOR HELP TO RATIFY IMF QUOTA REFORMS
    "To get that 85 percent majority (to ratify reforms), that facilitates
better governance, where emerging market economies are better represented than
they are today, where low-income countries' shares are protected, we need all
members to ratify the reform. And the key member which has a veto power over
this transformation is the United States.
    "So I would hope as you have done in the past, because you have written to
Congress, I would hope that you would support this initiative yet again, to make
sure that there is actual representativeness in the institution and credibility
in its function."
    ON U.S. DEBT CEILING:
    "It is critical that the exit of highly accommodative (U.S.) monetary policy
be carefully managed, that the fiscal house of the United States of American be
put in order, and obviously we know and you know right now that failure to raise
the debt ceiling would cause serious damage to the U.S. economy, but also to the
global economy."
    ON A POSSIBLE U.S. DEFAULT:
    "When it affects the largest economy in world, we are bound to not only look
at the immediate domestic consequences but we also have to look at what happens
elsewhere, and we have to engage in a dialogue with our members to see how they
can best prepare for that and anticipate. 
    "That is work that is under way. I hope in a few weeks time we will look
back and say what a waste of time that was because it was unnecessary, because
it didn't happen."

   SINGAPORE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND FINANCE MINISTER THARMAN SHANMUGARATNAM
   ON POSSIBLE U.S. DEFAULT:
   "It's not clear how capital is going to flow, it's not clear where the money
runs, it's not clear where the safe haven is, and that's a bad world to be in."
    
   RESERVE BANK OF INDIA GOVERNOR RAGHURAM RAJAN
   ON POSSIBLE U.S. DEFAULT:
   "The biggest concern is the freezing up of some markets because U.S.
collateral is no longer good and the U.S. is no longer a safe asset. That would
be a disruption."
    
   ON RECENT FOCUS ON INDIA'S PROBLEMS:
   "I want to get India off the front page. We certainly don't deserve to be
there....India's external debt to GDP is 22 percent. India's reserves to GDP is
15 percent....We have a plan to bring down the fiscal deficit. Our average debt
maturity is 9.5 years, and it's rupee-denominated. Is there a risk for the
government getting financing? Is there a risk for the country getting financing?
No. 

    RESERVE BANK OF INDIA GOVERNOR RAGHURAM RAJAN
    ON INDIA'S ECONOMY, FISCAL HEALTH:
    "We are by no means, no means, anywhere nearing having external financing
difficulties or internal financing difficulties. Government credit is good,
solid. There is absolutely no difficulty to the government in borrowing."
    ON FED TAPERING:
    "One view of this tapering is that the fast money has actually left and
hasn't come back in a big way and there's not much more of it left to go. So in
that sense it may be that we don't have really have as much of an issue."
    "Of course there's a big question about when tapering will actually occur.
My sense is that as events play out, it's being postponed even more."  
    
    INDIA FINANCE MINISTER P. CHIDAMBARAM
    ON THE FED'S TAPERING PLANS:
    "They should have clearly communicated their policy and consulted with other
countries."
    "It's clear that the taper will happen, it's likely to happen in December or
January. The market has factored it in. We have enough warning and notice that
we have to build our own defenses, which we are doing. We have to take reformist
measures, shore up our reserves."
    "India will be prepared for the taper. I hope other countries are also
taking steps."
    
    RUSSIAN FINANCE MINISTER ANTON SILUANOV
    ON U.S. DEBT CEILING:
   "It'll be discussed, because it can affect the overall situation in the world
economy. All are following very closely the developments and I have no doubt
that this issue will be among the ones discussed tonight at the finance
ministers meeting. I cannot say it'll be the main question, but the discussion
cannot happen without it."
    "If it gets into the communique, it will be in a positive format -  that we
wish a speedy resolution of the crisis that had emerged in the discussion of the
budget and the debt ceiling,  that it is decided as soon as possible and that
there is a clarity of fiscal and debt policies of the world's largest country."

    EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBER JOERG ASMUSSEN
    ON POSSIBILITY OF U.S. DEFAULT:
    "I don't see a U.S. default, or a partial default happening. People at the
Treasury were always able to find a pragmatic solution in the end.
    "Maybe it will not be a permanent one, but at least something that will give
them some leeway, maybe something for the next 3-6 months. But a default -- I
don't expect this to happen."
    ON NEED FOR U.S., JAPAN TO REDUCE DEBT LEVEL:
    "The U.S. as well as Japan needs a credible medium-term fiscal strategy.
When you look at the debt level, for the euro area it is 96 percent of GDP. If
you take the U.S., the public debt it is 107 percent. And for Japan it is 247
percent.
    "So what is urgently needed, is for the U.S. and Japan to have a credible
medium-term fiscal strategy."

    WORLD BANK PRESIDENT JIM YONG KIM
    ON WHAT A U.S. DEFAULT COULD MEAN:
    "We did a review just recently of what happened to developing countries
after the August 2011 near miss on the default. And what we found is that in
developing countries the cost of borrowing, bond spreads, went up by about 75
basis points and that elevated bond spread persisted for months. The stock
markets in developing countries dropped by about 15 percent and that also
persisted.
    So what we know is that even a near miss will have a real impact on
developing countries ... If you look at the increase in the bond spreads and
also the falling of the stock markets, those have a direct impact on U.S.
exports. Fifty percent of exports are to developing countries, so we hope that
for many, many reasons policymakers here move quickly and resolve this crisis."

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