Euro, Hong Kong dollar, U.S. dollar, Japanese yen, pound and Chinese 100 yuan banknotes are seen in this picture illustration, in Beijing, China, January 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee
By Jan Strupczewski and Gernot Heller
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – The world’s top economies are set to declare on Saturday that they need to look beyond ultra-low interest rates and printing money if the global economy is to shake off its torpor, while promising a new focus on structural reform to spark activity.
A draft of the communique to be issued by the Group of 20 (G20) finance ministers and central bankers at the end of a two-day meeting in Shanghai reflected myriad concerns and policy frictions that have been exacerbated by economic uncertainty and market turbulence in recent months.
“The global recovery continues, but it remains uneven and falls short of our ambition for strong, sustainable and balanced growth,” the leaders said in a draft seen by Reuters.
“Monetary policies will continue to support economic activity and ensure price stability … but monetary policy alone cannot lead to balanced growth.”
Geopolitics figured prominently, with the draft noting risks and vulnerabilities had risen against a backdrop that includes the shock of a potential British exit from the European Union, which will be decided in a June 23 referendum, rising numbers of refugees and migrants, and downgraded global growth prospects.
But there was no sign of coordinated stimulus spending to spark activity, as some investors had been hoping after the market turmoil that began 2016.
DIVISIONS OVER DEBT, RATES
Divisions have emerged among major economies over the reliance on debt to drive growth and the use of negative interest rates by some central banks, such as in Japan.
Germany had made it clear it was not keen on new stimulus, with Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble saying on Friday the debt-financed growth model had reached its limits.
“It is even causing new problems, raising debt, causing bubbles and excessive risk taking, zombifying the economy,” he said.
The G20, which spans major industrialized economies such as the United States and Japan to the emerging giants of China and Brazil and smaller economies such as Indonesia and Turkey, reiterated in the communique a commitment to refrain from targeting exchange rates for competitive purposes, including through devaluations.
While G20 host China has ruled out another devaluation of the yuan <CNY=CFXS> after surprising markets by lowering its exchange rate last August, there still appeared to be concerns that some members may seek a quick fix to domestic woes through a weaker currency.
Japanese finance minister Taro Aso said late on Friday he had urged China to carry out currency reform and map out a mid-term structural reform plan with a timeframe.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew also encouraged China on Friday to shift to a more market-oriented exchange rate in “an orderly way” and “refrain from policies that would be destabilizing and create an unfair advantage”.
(Reporting by Gernot Heller, Jan Strupczewski, Adam Jourdan, Brenda Goh and Kevin Yao in Shanghai, and Tetsushi Kajimoto in Tokyo; Writing by John Ruwitch and Pete Sweeney; Editing by Alex Richardson)