MOSCOW (Reuters) - Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 nations are meeting in Moscow under Russia’s presidency. Following are key quotes from the meeting on Saturday.
“The mood quite clearly early on was that we needed desperately to avoid protectionist measures and that the G20 stands firmly against protectionism and against manipulation of exchange rates. So that mood permeated quite quickly.”
On how to tell whether a country’s monetary policy is targeting exchange rates: “It’s quite difficult to gauge that.”
”I have explained that (Prime Minister Shinzo) Abe’s administration is doing its utmost to escape from deflation and we have gained a certain understanding (at G20).
“We’re confident that if Japan revives its own economy that would certainly affect world economy as well. We gained understanding on this point.”
“The economic slowdown in Europe as a whole means that we should avoid adding austerity to the recession. We Must keep a medium-term orientation ... commitment must be maintained and at the same time avoid a recession spiral of austerity that prevents us from keeping medium-term financial goals.”
”The message of G20 (on monetary policies and exchange rates) is fully coherent with that of G7, which corresponds to the government’s point of view.
“We were right to evoke (this point) and that after G7, G20 addressed this question in a perfectly clear way.”
”As emphasized by the G-20, global growth is still weak, with unemployment remaining unacceptably high in many countries. The weak global performance derives from policy uncertainty, private deleveraging, continued fiscal drag, as well as insufficient progress on rebalancing global demand.
”Implementation of the financial reform agenda to build a more resilient financial system remains a priority. Credible medium-term fiscal plans also need to be in place to provide flexibility while growth is more fully restored.
”I welcome G-20 resolve to achieve a lasting reduction in global imbalances through joint actions to avoid persistent exchange rate misalignments, and the group’s commitment to refrain from competitive devaluation, to resist protectionism in all forms, and to keep markets open. It was heartening to see the G-20 reaffirmed its commitment to move more rapidly toward more market-determined exchange rate systems and exchange rate flexibility to reflect underlying fundamentals.
“We think that talk of currency wars is overblown. People did talk about their currency worries. The good news is that the G-20 responded with cooperation rather than conflict today.”
Asked if inflation expectations risked becoming unmoored in Britain and elsewhere because of loose monetary policy: “The risks globally are deficient demand.”
Asked if he agreed with the IMF that the Canadian dollar is overvalued: “We don’t comment on levels of exchange rates. We’ve noted for some time that the Canadian dollar is persistently strong. It’s something we take into account in the setting of monetary policy in Canada. It’s one of the reasons why policy is as accommodative as it is.”
”We had a broad consensus in the G20 that we will stick to the commitment to fulfil the Toronto goals.
“What was said before the G20, that we are isolated (on debt-issue) is totally wrong.”
“We do not have any interest in US-bashing ... In St. Petersburg (G20-summit) follow-up-goals will be decided.”
“BOJ’s monetary policy has been and will be aimed at stabilizing the domestic economy through stable prices, just as was stated in the G7 joint statement ... Therefore it is in line with what we have been doing in guiding monetary policy.”
“At this meeting, IMF and many other participants said it is not appropriate to describe the current situation as currency war and that such an expression is overblown. G20 as well as G7 share the view that efforts by each country to stabilize their own economy will lead to stability in the global economy.”
“We need to take measures to increase the effectiveness of our economies - increase industrial output, increase stimulus measures ... This is what governments should be doing and not manipulating exchange rates.”
“We have reached an agreement that there should be no competition between (exchange) rates. The issue is not in currencies, but in their regime ... If we get governments and central banks meddling, then, as a result, there will be imbalances.”
“Changes of forex policy in one country, will affect the situation in partner countries and then currency competition may begin.”
”The language has been strengthened since our discussions last night ... “It’s stronger than it was, but it was quite clear last night that everyone around the table wants to avoid any sort of currency disputes.”
On fiscal policy:
“First of all you need a medium-term plan to get to balanced budgets, and then at the same time you need some growth initiatives as we have in Canada with respect to trade and regulatory reform. Some of these initiatives don’t cost money and do create jobs and growth, so the question was how do we strike the right balance, which is what I was encouraging my colleagues to do. Some countries put more emphasis on the previous commitments at Toronto than others do. I think we have to avoid backtracking. That would be a terrible error for the G20. As an organization we need to maintain our movement forward, to keep our commitments, to show that we can collaborate and work together, as we did successfully in 2008.”
“BRICS countries demanded that major developed nations pay attention to their monetary policy spillover and that major developed countries implementation of excessively relaxed currency policy has an influence on the world economy, particularly for developing countries. Developed countries promised to consider the foreign spillover of their macro-economic policy, especially currency policy.”
“Under the strong request at this G20 meeting, developed country economies considered the need for oversight of their own banks and the United States has already made promises to implement the agreement (Basel III) in the coming months. European parties also expressed that this agreement was in the final stages of legislative approval. Despite the United States and Europe’s delay in implementing the agreement, they have recognized the importance of implementing it and have agreed to undertake that responsibility. China welcomed their declaration and expects that they will genuinely carry out their promises, strengthen the financial oversight aspects of the G20 agreement and increase confidence in the G20.”
“We all agreed on the fact that we refuse to enter any currency war.”
“But we also want to have on an international level a cooperative approach ... excluding aggressive strategies for devaluation.”
“This is why we all agreed that the levels of currencies have to be determined by the markets.”
“We expect by April countries will have made progress on reaching a balanced approach to establishing new budget indicators on both, deficit and the level of government debt.”
“Structural reforms in all countries, either with a positive or negative balance of payments, should play a bigger role.”
“The main refrain of emerging economies has been that the spillover impacts of easy monetary policies, there are push factors and pull factors and capital flows are happening more because of push factors rather than pull factors ... and that the macroeconomic costs can be more than advanced economies believe.”
“The G7 made a very clear statement this week. I think you’ll see the G20 echo what was said, and say that currencies should not be used as a tool of competitive devaluation.”
“Countries shouldn’t make the mistake of the past of using currencies as a tool of economic warfare.”