G20 puts growth before austerity, vows to tread carefully
By Lidia Kelly and Jan Strupczewski
MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Group of 20 nations pledged on Saturday to put growth before austerity, seeking to revive a global economy that "remains too weak" and adjusting stimulus policies with care so that recovery is not derailed by volatile financial markets.
Finance ministers and central bankers signed off on a communiqué that acknowledged the benefits of expansive policies in the United States and Japan but highlighted the recession in the euro zone and a slowdown in emerging markets.
"While our policy actions have contributed to contain downside risks, those still remain elevated," the statement said. "There has been an increase in financial market volatility and a tightening of conditions.
Indications that the U.S. Federal Reserve would scale back its monetary stimulus dominated the two-day talks in Moscow, with emerging markets most concerned by a resulting selloff in stocks and bonds, and a flight to the dollar.
Hosts Russia said G20 policymakers had soft-pedaled on goals to cut government debt in favor of a focus on growth and how to exit central bank stimulus with a minimum of turmoil.
"(G20) colleagues have not made the decision to take responsibility to lower the deficits and debts by 2016," Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told Reuters. "Some people thought that first you need to ensure economic growth.
While the U.S. recovery is gaining traction, China's export motor is sputtering, Japan's bid to break out of deflation has not reached escape velocity, and demand in the euro zone is too weak to sustain a job-creating recovery.
Officials backed an action plan to boost jobs and growth, while rebalancing global demand and debt, that will be readied for a G20 leaders summit hosted by President Vladimir Putin in September. Continued...