G-20 to urge its members to act against uncertainty

The Group of 20 (G-20) leading economies want financially troubled countries to make the most of safety nets, including Europe’s bailout fund, to limit the uncertainty damaging the global economy, Mexican Deputy Finance Minister Gerardo Rodriguez said.

By Krista Hughes (Reuters)

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Published: Sun 28 Oct 2012, 10:14 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 12:28 PM

Mexico will host finance ministers and central bankers from the bloc of advanced and developing countries next weekend at a meeting that is expected to focus heavily on Europe’s ongoing debt crisis, with Spain tipped as the next country to seek aid.

A deteriorating global outlook has put the focus on countries to boost growth, and a G-20 official briefed on the preparations for the meeting said there was disquiet over what was seen as Spain’s reluctance to ask for a full bailout.

Rodriguez declined to say directly whether Spain should ask for a financial rescue from its European partners but stressed that safety nets, such as Europe’s €500 billion ($646.57 billion) bailout fund, were generally meant to be used. “The G-20 urges countries to take action to reduce the environment of uncertainty,” he said.

One action could be using existing support facilities, and the G-20 would support countries wanting to take advantage of available resources such as the European Stability Mechanism. — Reuters

“The G-20 has to show the market and the players that all this effort in setting up the famous firewalls has created firewalls which are effective, and to test that they are effective they need to be used,” Rodriguez said.

Spain is under pressure to seek aid as it struggles to cope with high government debt. Europe has already set aside €100 billion to recapitalise banks, and eurozone sources said they expected an aid request next month.

If Spain were to apply for help from the European Stability Mechanism, that would allow the European Central Bank to step in with massive Spanish bond purchases on the secondary market and lower Madrid’s borrowing costs. Still, yields on Spanish bonds have fallen two per centage points in the last three months and it is also unclear whether fellow eurozone members would approve a request from Spain for aid from the ESM, given strong anti-bailout sentiment in countries like Germany and Finland.

Spain’s economy minister, Luis de Guindos, will attend the G-20 meeting on November 4 and 5 as a guest, along with officials from Chile, Colombia, Benin and Cambodia.

“This will be an opportunity to give everyone an update on what they are thinking and if they will make any decisions in the short term,” Rodriguez said.

World finance leaders met just two weeks ago in Tokyo, where they urged Europe and the United States to tackle debt which threatens to stifle global growth.

The International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for global growth to 3.6 per cent for 2013 and urged the United States to take steps to avoid a year-end fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts that could tip the country back into recession.

But Rodriguez said with US presidential elections scheduled the day after the G-20 meeting ends, there was unlikely to be fresh pressure for action.

“Markets have so far given the benefit of the doubt that it will resolve the challenge of the fiscal cliff adequately,” he said. “Everyone is in wait-and-see mode, and we’ll see after the elections how they can progress in talks with Congress.”

Foreign exchange flexibility would also feature in the discussions, he said, as it was always an important subject for the G-20.

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