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G-20 gives tepid support to emerging markets' concern over Fed tapering

September 06, 2013|By Don Lee
  • Leaders of the G-20 pose for a family picture on the second of their summit in St. Petersburg.
Leaders of the G-20 pose for a family picture on the second of their summit… (Alexander Vilf / EPA )

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- World leaders at the G-20 summit here gave a friendly ear to the recent financial woes of emerging economies, but in the end the response wasn't very sympathetic.

At the conclusion of the two-day meetings Friday, the heads of Group of 20 major economies issued a declaration acknowledging the recent market volatility and growth slowdown in developing countries. But the G-20 essentially told these nations to get over it and to focus on putting their financial house in order.

That's not what the emerging countries wanted to hear. Some of the hardest hit such as India had complained that they were feeling the harmful effects of the Federal Reserve's expected reduction of its bond-buying stimulus program, which has prompted investors to withdraw funds from developing nations and put them into richer countries where interest rates are now rising.

The G-20 statement did say that policy decisions by central banks should be "carefully calibrated and clearly communicated," but it mentioned only generally the "risks and unintended negative side effects" of monetary policy actions -- not even citing the damage or concern to emerging markets.

What's more, the declaration largely attributed the sharp decline in emerging market currencies and stocks to structural weaknesses in those economies and financial systems.

"Some emerging markets were lax in putting in place reforms," said a senior U.S. administration official. The official, speaking only for background, said that the capital flight from emerging markets reflects the recent shift in economic momentum toward advanced economies, including the U.S. 

"Countries need to adjust for that reality," the American official said.

Pierre Moscovici, the French finance minister, seemed to shrug when asked about the declaration's tepid support for emerging economies.

"This is a point which attention was drawn," he said in an interview as the summit was winding down. But "it's not a major alert at this stage."

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