- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 21, 2002

The Group of Seven top industrial nations declared yesterday that the world economy is on the way back, but that the threat of high oil prices looms and Argentina's crisis remains a deep concern.
A joint communique by the G-7 finance ministers made no reference, however, to recession in Japan, which the International Monetary Fund had cited as one of the most threatening menaces to global economic health.
"The economic recovery from the slowdown is under way, supported by appropriate and proactive macroeconomic policies that were in part a response to the tragic events of September 11," G-7 economic chiefs asserted.
"But downside risks remain, including those arising from oil markets," said the finance ministers and central bank governors from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.
The G-7 statement, issued after a four-hour discussion before the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings in Washington, leaned toward optimism.
Oil prices were an uncertainty, "but it hasn't prevented us from being optimistic about the prospects for the year ahead," said Gordon Brown, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The decision to ignore Japan in the G7 communique was striking, however, given that the International Monetary Fund said the country's most severe recession in a decade threatened the world economy.
"The main part of the G-7, perhaps regrettably, was not focused on matters that concern Japan," French Finance Minister Laurent Fabius said. "We are as puzzled by these problems as our Japanese friends. Adding puzzlement to puzzlement is rarely the right way to produce a communique."
The statement did recognize the financial storm tearing through Argentina, which is in its fourth year of recession and has now shuttered all banking operations in fear of an exodus of deposits.
"The situation in Argentina is of serious concern," the finance ministers and central bank governors said. They urged Buenos Aires to pursue fiscal and monetary reforms.

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