WASHINGTON (TNS) — The world’s finance ministers ended talks in Washington this weekend soothed by calmer markets yet sobered by the prospect that the relief may only be temporary.
“There was not exactly the same level of anxiety,” said Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund. The talks were “a bit of a therapy — collective therapy — to move from the negative situation that we are facing and the challenges on the horizon to a positive approach in order to identify the solutions that will respond to the challenges,” she said.
Risks to the global recovery have stabilized, Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers said after convening in Washington at the IMF’s spring meetings. The G-20 struck a more upbeat tone than it did in Shanghai in February, when officials acknowledged the rocky start to the year for financial markets. Since then, global stocks have risen about 8 percent, and volatility indexes have eased.
The respite won’t be celebrated for long, as risks to the global expansion loom, including Britains possible exit from the European Union, a leadership crisis in Brazil and an economic slowdown in China. There is also an ongoing drag of the commodities slump on resource exporters; new worries about Greece’s debt sustainability; a war in Syria and a refugee crisis in Europe; and a U.S. presidential candidate who is threatening to erect immigration and trade barriers.
“There was an equal level of concern, and a collective endeavor to identify the solution and the responses to the global economic situation,” Lagarde said.
She summed up the IMF stance as one of “alert,” not “alarm.”
The IMF cut its global outlook again last week, warning that a prolonged stretch of slow growth has left the world economy more exposed to negative shocks. The Washington-based fund raised the specter of secular stagnation, a concept recently promoted by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, who has argued that a global savings glut has left demand chronically depressed.
But German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said there was no cause for excessive gloom.
“We won’t stoke the alarmist talk, for which there is no reason in substance,” Schaeuble said.. “We have moderate growth in the various parts of the world economy, but this moderate growth has nothing to do with any crisis scenarios.”
Policymakers have become more upbeat since the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January, Mexican Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said.
“The mood is slightly more optimistic on the global markets and risks to the global economy,” he said in an interview. “However, the main concern is growth and having slow growth basically everywhere.”