News Column

G-20: World Economy Functions at 3 Different Speeds

April 23, 2013

Isaac Cohen --


These are complex times. The executive authorities from the International Monetary Fund opened the spring meetings last week in Washington, D.C., stating that the world economy is functioning at three different speeds.

The statement issued by the so-called Group of 20 major economies recognized global growth weakness and too high unemployment in many countries. This was attributed to an uneven recovery that is "progressing at different speeds." Emerging markets are experiencing "relatively strong growth," while in the U.S. there is a "gradual strengthening of private demand," but the euro area is lagging behind.

The G-20 concluded that "further actions are required to make growth strong, sustainable and balanced," while fiscal sustainability, or austerity, in advanced economies will be subject to medium-term strategies. In this context, stimulus policies recently adopted in Japan and South Korea were welcomed.

Additionally, without naming Germany or China, the G-20 advised large surplus economies to take "further steps to boost domestic demand sources of growth."

A single phrase in the G-20 declaration referred to concerns expressed by some emerging market economies about volatility of financial flows and exchange rate devaluations, which can be caused by stimulus policies adopted in the advanced economies. The so-called BRICS -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- have complained about these consequences.

On account of the uneven recovery, the IMF staff for 2013 projects 3.3 percent in world growth, almost the same as last year.

Isaac Cohen is an international analyst and consultant, a commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Espaņol TV and radio, and a former director, UNECLAC Washington Office.


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