Financial bodies strive to save global economy

Ahram Online, Monday 8 Aug 2011

Europe's central bank, the G7 and G20 have all made statements on the bleak worldwide picture. But is there much substance behind the words?

G7 leaders
G7 finance leaders inside the French Ambassadors residence during the IMF and World Bank's 2011 Spring meeting in Washington (Photo: Reuters)

The turmoil in the global economic arena races on. As the eurozone struggles with an increasingly contagious sovereign debt crisis, the United States has stepped back from the brink of default, finally signing a plan to raise the debt ceiling just hours before the deadline.

Global markets are watching in anxiety as leading economic bodies make plans to soften the damage. So what have the European Central Bank, G7 and G20 proposed so afar?

European Central Bank: bond-buying for Italy and Spain  

The European Central Bank on Monday decided to intervene in the bonds market to rescue Italy and Spain, following fears they might end up in the same boat as Greece, Portugal and Ireland. 

The bank said it would expand its bond-buying programme to include debt issued by the Italian and Spanish governments, in apparent response to reforms announced by the two aimed at winning ECB support.

The ECB governing council on Sunday welcomed announcements from Italy and Spain that they would move to adopt fiscal reforms, stressing the need for them be done swiftly to reduce the two countries' mounting public deficits. 

Italy, the EU’s third largest economy, unveiled a comprehensive economic reform plan on Friday to accelerate austerity measures and adopt the amendments needed to balance the budget by 2013 instead of 2014.

Spain, the fourth biggest economy in the eurozone, managed to sell bonds worth €3.3 billion on Thursday by paying an unsustainably high interest rate.

As a result of ECB intervention, yields on Italian and Spanish government bonds fell on Monday to 4.85 per cent and 4.734 per cent respectively. The euro also rose against the dollar to trade 0.8 per cent higher.

The ECB has also said the prompt implementation of all the measures reached at a eurozone summit held on 21 July is vital.

Summit agreements included measures to sustain public finances, ensure liquidity and repair the banking sector. The eurozone's leading players, France and Germany, issued a joint statement on Sunday saying they were aiming for swift parliamentary approval by the end of September.

The ECB also considered how ready governments are to use the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).

The EFSF was created to enable the issuing of bonds, guaranteed by the Euro Area Member States (EASM) and worth up to €440 billion, for member states in financial need. 

The ECB also said it would implement its securities markets programme in order to ensure price stability in the eurozone.


The G7: pushing the importance of fiscal discipline

Finance ministers and central bank governors of the group of seven industrial countries (G7) made a statement on Monday saying they would ensure liquidity and stability, aiming to ease market tensions before global markets opened.

The statement backed up the previous ECB and Franco-German announcements, but added the voices of the world’s major industrial economies: the US, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, the UK, and Canada.

The G7 said actions taken by financially-battered governments would nevertheless achieve long-term fiscal sustainability if undertaken with discipline. It also welcome the new debt plan passed by the US government to curb its mounting deficit level over the medium-term.

The G7 reaffirmed its support for a strong and stable international financial system and market-determined exchange rates, saying its nations would cooperate in exchange markets, in times of volatility and uncertainty if needed.


The G20: joint action for stability and growth

Finance ministers and central bank governors of the group of 20 major industrialised and developing economies (G20) also on Monday stated their commitment toward financial.

The statement followed sharp declines for Asian markets in Monday trade.

The G20, which includes heavy-weighted emerging economies like China and Brazil, said it would take all necessary steps to stabilize financial markets and and promote economic growth in a "spirit of cooperation and confidence."

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