G20, EU leaders meet in a week to mend Greece

Sun Feb 8, 2015 4:04am EST
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By Mike Peacock

LONDON (Reuters) - Meetings of G20 finance ministers and EU leaders top and tail this week with Greece's fate uppermost in policymakers' minds and global turbulence caused by diverging monetary policies and cheap oil coming a close second.

The central bank world has been upended by a steepling fall in oil prices, and the effect that may have on inflation and growth, and the prospect of the European Central Bank creating 1 trillion euros out of thin air.

The Swiss National Bank caused currency turmoil by abruptly ending its Swiss franc cap. Impromptu interest rate cuts have followed from India to Australia and Canada to Denmark, while China has cut bank reserve requirements.

On the other side of the ledger, the prospect of a first U.S. interest rate rise this year highlights the very different directions major central banks are heading in.

A by-product of that is the dollar being driven higher while stimulus from the ECB and Bank of Japan, among others, drives other major currencies lower.

All that will be front and center for finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 nations who meet in Istanbul on Monday and Tuesday, as will the perennial debate about countries that can afford to do so spending more to generate demand.

"The rest of the world cannot depend on the United States to be the sole engine of growth," Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told U.S. lawmakers last week.

Germany, with its giant current account surplus, has consistently rejected that approach and last year balanced its budget for the first time in more than four decades.   Continued...

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis speaks to reporters as he arrives at the ministry to meet with the U.S. delegation, in Athens February 6, 2015. REUTERS/Kostas Tsironis