G20 summit to focus on 'currency war' threat to economy

Tension builds over Japan's efforts to drive down yen, but ministers resist crackdown

Japan's aggressive attempts to spur on its struggling economy were set to escape censure from the G20 nations today as bickering in Moscow kept alive fears of a "currency war".

Finance ministers at the G20 gathering are understood to have pulled back from explicit criticism of Japan, whose prime minister Shinzo Abe has embarked on a huge programme of monetary and fiscal stimulus to jump start the world's third largest economy out of its third recession in five years.

The currency market was thrown into turmoil this week after the G7 – the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Canada and Italy – issued a joint statement warning against using domestic policy to target currencies.

But the show of unity was immediately shattered by off-the-record briefings against Japan, which needs a weaker yen to help fuel its export-driven economy.

European Central Bank president Mario Draghi yesterday labelled the behind-the-scenes briefing as "inappropriate, fruitless and self-defeating".

IMF chief Christine Lagarde and Russia's deputy finance minister Sergei Storchak also denied the ex- istence of currency wars, labelling recent swings in the yen as "market reaction to exclusively internal decision making".

G20 officials are set to disregard key parts of the G7 currency statement while making no direct mention of new debt-cutting targets – something Germany is pressing for but which the United States is opposed to.

If adopted by G20 finance ministers today, the wording will confirm that Japan will escape any censure for expansionary policies which have driven the yen lower. The G20 is set to back away from the G7's commitment not to target exchange rates, as China would be unlikely to sign up.

BNY Mellon currency strategist Neil Mellor said: "We're going to end up with a communique so bland and watered down as to be virtually meaningless."

The quantitative easing pursued by central banks around the world – including the Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve – has enraged emerging economies such as Brazil as the value of their foreign reserves dwindles, raising fears over "competitive devaluations".

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said: "What the G7 basically said this week is that it is fine to manipulate your currency as long as you don't talk about it. These 'currency wars' are more like phony wars. The bigger problem the G20 has is not currency wars, it is a lack of growth."

The yen has fallen by about 20 per cent since November but the strengthening euro is also concerning European politicians as the eurozone seeks to climb out of a malaise underlined by a worse-than-expected 0.6 per cent slide in GDP in the final quarter of last year.

French President François Hollande called last week for a medium-term target for the euro, but Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann came out against such a move today, expressing fears of "a politicisation of the exchange rate".

The meeting in Moscow of finance officials from the G20 nations also looked set to lay bare differences over the balance between growth and austerity policies. The draft communique reflected a row brewing between Europe and the United States over extending a promise to reduce budget deficits beyond 2016.

A pact struck in Toronto in 2010 will expire this year if leaders fail to agree to extend it at a G20 summit of leaders in St Petersburg in September.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has arisen within th...

Ashdown Group: Development Manager - Rickmansworth - £55k +15% bonus

£50000 - £63000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / D...

Recruitment Genius: Security Officer

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Applicants must hold a valid SIA Door Su...

Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - City, London

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - The C...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss