22nd Sep 2023

G20 rebuffs France on euro exchange rate plan

  • The G20 played down the threat of a currency war (Photo: Images_of_Money)

Leaders of the world's richest economies at a G20 summit in Moscow have vowed not to start a currency war by managing their exchange rates.

In the summit communique released on Saturday following talks by finance ministers and central bankers (February 16), G20 countries "reiterate [their] commitments to move more rapidly toward more market-determined exchange rate systems and exchange rate flexibility to reflect underlying fundamentals, and avoid persistent exchange rate misalignments."

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They also promise to "refrain from competitive devaluation. We will not target our exchange rates for competitive purposes, will resist all forms of protectionism and keep our markets open."

However, the statement left the door open for governments to pursue an active monetary policy.

"Monetary policy should be directed toward domestic price stability and continuing to support economic recovery," it read.

French President Francois Hollande had raised the issue in the European Parliament earlier this month, calling for the eurozone to develop an active exchange rate policy in a bid to combat currency speculation and avoid a fluctuating exchange rate.

Despite the eurozone being mired in recession, and with forecasts that it will remain in recession until the second half of 2013, the euro has gained around 10 percent on a range of currencies including the dollar and sterling since the start of 2013.

In particular, the value of the Japanese Yen against the euro has dropped by 20 percent since November.

This has led some European countries to worry that a strong euro could harm exports and jeopardise the eurozone's fragile recovery.

Despite this, International Monetary Fund boss Christine Lagarde played down fears of a currency war as "overblown."

She noted that "there is no major deviation from fair value of major currencies."

Meanwhile, Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank (ECB), told the G20 event that the debate was "inappropriate, fruitless and self-defeating."

But in a nod to French concerns, the G20 agreed that "excess volatility of financial flows and disorderly movements in exchange rates have adverse implications for economic and financial stability."

Most of the world's richest nations have used various forms of quantitative easing since the 2007-9 financial crisis in a bid to prop up bank balance sheets and stimulate consumer spending.

In December, US Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, unveiled plans to expand its bond-buying programme by an additional $45 billion (€35 billion) per month to $85 billion.

The Federal Reserve is already said to hold $4 trillion (€2.8 trillion) on its balance sheet, up from around $800 billion (€600 billion) at the start of the financial crisis.

For its part, the Bank of England has pumped €450 billion into the British economy since the start of the financial crisis.

The Frankfurt-based ECB has also provided over €1 trillion in cheap credit to banks under its Long-Term Refinancing Operation (LTRO).

But some countries, led by Germany, are anxious to keep control of the money supply, believing that printing money would lead to a spike in inflation.

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