IMF seeks clarity in Italy, China wants stability

Thu Nov 10, 2011 7:54am EST
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By Kevin Yao

BEIJING (Reuters) - The head of the International Monetary Fund urged Italy Thursday to act quickly fill its damaging political vacuum, and China said it was willing to help maintain global financial stability that was being threatened by the euro zone crisis.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde spoke during a visit to China as Rome politicians scrambled to find a replacement for Berlusconi, who has said he will step down when parliament approves reforms aimed at placating markets.

"No one exactly understands who is going to come out as the leader. That confusion is particularly conducive to volatility," Lagarde told a news conference in Beijing.

"So from my perspective, political clarity is conducive to more stability and my objective from the Fund's point of view is better and more stability."

On European markets Thursday, hopes that new government being formed in Italy and Greece could help stave off a euro zone break-up drove the euro higher and top-rated government debt lower, while stocks held above a three-week trough.

China -- which holds an estimated 25 percent of its $3.2 trillion of foreign exchange wealth in euro-denominated assets -- is equally keen to see clarity and stability take hold in the euro zone, the country's single biggest export market.

Premier Wen Jiabao told Lagarde that Europe's sovereign debt crisis was a serious challenge to the world's economic recovery, and had increased financial risks for developed economies, Chinese state media reported.

"China supports the measures taken by the European Union, European Central Bank and IMF to deal with the crisis, and is willing to work with all parties to discuss effective cooperative measures to maintain global financial stability," Xinhua news agency paraphrased Wen as saying.   Continued...