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G-20 experts choose a wrong agenda

February 18, 2013, 10:56 UTC+3

The document’s major items include – a statement on refrain from currencies’ competitive devaluation

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The Moscow meeting of G-20’s financial ministers and heads of central banks finished on Saturday by adoption of a joint communiqu·. The document’s major items include – a statement on refrain from currencies’ competitive devaluation. This was the question Russia had announced as a major one over its chairing role during the current year. However, independent experts and some participants in the meeting doubted currency wars were of importance. They commented on the discussion in Moscow as artificial, as a G-20 discussion of the problem was late for several years.

“We shall refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies. We are not going to base our exchange rates on purposes of the competition, we shall refrain from all forms of protection and will keep our markets open,” the Nezavisimaya Gazeta quotes the final communiqu· as saying. Russia’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov confirmed to reporters that the issue, as it had been pre-planned, was on the agenda of the G-20 financial experts in the framework of the meeting, and core decisions had been achieved.

Meanwhile, the newspaper writes, on the eve of the meeting, some participants having learned the agenda doubted the topic was timely. The threat of currency wars is in the past and it is not necessary to discuss the topic on the level of G-20, Head of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Angel Gurria said. He did not share the view of ongoing currency wars. It may be a catching headline, but he was sure the ministers would not speak. They have other plans of importance. The current threat of currency wars is lower than it used to be two-three years earlier, he said.

Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund shares the view.

“The problem of currency wars is artificial – as if the threat has been invented specially for the Moscow meeting of G-20,” the Nezavisimaya Gazeta quoted Head of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of the Economy Ruslan Grinberg as saying. During overcoming the crisis the government had pumped much money into the economies, and this money will not go to the real sector. However, nowadays governments do not observe the laws of the 1930s, where the economy followed but one rule – strip the neighbour, including by devaluation of national currencies, in order to improve opportunities for national exporters. In the current conditions, G-20 countries are behaving themselves, they lead more balanced monetary policies, which do not harm their counterparts.

HSBC’s Chief Economist on Russia and the CIS Alexander Morozov is sure the general improvement of the world economic situation, which has continued over a year, is a factor, which minimises the threat of emerging currency wars. Governments do not share temptations to devaluate national currencies in the interests of their producers also because they are aware – the response is due to come. And in that case, there will not be winners, only losers.

G-20’s fist events during Russia’s chairing role leave a weird impression – almost all official statements … were devoted to disclaimed “currency wars,” the Kommersant reports.

Head of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi during the joint news conference with Head of the Russian Federation’s Central Bank Sergei Ignatyev expressed most precisely the moods, as he said: “I am not joining this unproductive dialogue.”

“Decisions made over G-20 summits are not binding,” the Novye Izvestia heard from a leading expert of the Fund of Economic Research – Centre of Development – Sergei Pukhov. “They are rather suggestions and declarations of intentions.”

“For China and Japan, use of the exchange rates is the only way to offer preferences for local producers in domestic markets,” the expert said. “Those countries are unlikely to stop using this method, at least, not voluntarily.”

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