G7 to press on with bank reforms, Japan escapes censure

Sat May 11, 2013 11:03am EDT
 
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By William Schomberg and Gernot Heller

AYLESBURY, England (Reuters) - Group of Seven finance officials agreed on Saturday to redouble efforts to deal with failing banks and gave a green light to Japan's drive to galvanize its economy.

British finance minister George Osborne said the finance ministers and central bankers meeting 40 miles outside London focused on unfinished bank reforms, with signs that plans for a euro zone banking union are fraying.

"It is important to complete swiftly our work to ensure that no banks are too big to fail," Osborne told reporters after hosting a two-day meeting in a stately home set in rolling countryside.

"We must put regimes in place ... to deal with failing banks and to protect taxpayers and to do so in a globally consistent manner," he said.

The emergency rescue of Cyprus after a near meltdown in March served as a reminder of the need to finish an overhaul of the banking sector, five years after the world financial crisis began.

Germany has come under pressure to give more support to a banking union in the euro zone. The plan could help strengthen the single currency area, but Berlin worries it may pay too much for future bank bailouts if it signs up to a scheme to wind up stricken lenders.

While the first step - to create a single bank supervisor under the European Central Bank - looks set to be in place by mid-2014, a second pillar, a 'resolution' fund to close failed banks, is in doubt. And there is little prospect that a single deposit guarantee scheme will ever see the light of day.

A senior U.S. Treasury official said the talks at the 17th-century Hartwell House zeroed in on the need not just for better bank supervision but also to clean up balance sheets so lending can pick up.   Continued...

 
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne speaks to reporters at thye close of the G7 Finance Ministers and central bank governors summit at Hartwell House in Aylesbury, southern England May 11, 2013. REUTERS/Yui Mok/POOL