IMF Adjourns, But Not Much Is Settled
REBECCA ROBERTS, host:
Many of the world's top financial leaders are in Washington this weekend. They're focusing on how to deal with the increasing tension over global currency policies. Those tensions have strained relations between the U.S. and China and have huge implications for overall trade worldwide.
On Saturday, the International Monetary Fund vowed to take a stronger role, but as NPR's Larry Abramson reports, it will need cooperation among its members.
LARRY ABRAMSON: The IMF meeting confirmed that worldwide economic growth is uneven. There is fear that some countries will try to jumpstart their own economic growth by letting their currencies fall. China has been accused repeatedly of leaving its currency grossly undervalued in an effort to keep Chinese exports cheap.
On Saturday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called on the IMF to be much more active in monitoring currency markets. The meeting's final communique is vague on what specific steps will be taken, but Egyptian Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali said it's important that members have agreed to work together on currency disputes.
Mr. YOUSSEF BOUTROS-GHALI (Finance Minister, Egypt): And one of the things that they emphasized in the reforms of the institution, whether surveillance or mandate, is to allow the institution to be the center for resolving these kinds of issues. So, they're very much aware that it is a cooperative solution.
ABRAMSON: More concrete language may have to wait until the IMF's next meeting in April. In the meantime, it remains unclear whether China, now the world's second-largest economy, is willing to play ball. The governor of China's Central Bank said on Friday his country would not use what he called shock therapy and would only let its currency rise in a gradual way.
That may be too slow for members of Congress concerned about U.S. economic growth. The House recently passed a measure that could lead to trade sanctions for countries manipulating their currencies for trade advantages. The IMF meeting wraps up today.
Larry Abramson, NPR News, Washington.
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