G20 tension builds over Japan’s efforts to drive down yen

 

Global finance ministers braced for more skirmishes today in a week of simmering tension over “currency wars” as the G20 gathered in Moscow.

The meeting represents a desperate attempt to maintain a united front despite behind-the-scenes bickering over Japan’s aggressive efforts to depress the yen and boost exports under new prime minister Shinzo Abe.

Earlier this week the G7 nations and central banks had pledged to avoid manipulation of currencies to spur growth. But the public commitment not to target exchange rates was immediately undermined by an unofficial briefing aimed at Japan.

European Central Bank president Mario Draghi today labelled the bickering over currencies  as “inappropriate, fruitless and self-defeating”. Russia’s Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak denied the existence of currency wars, labelling recent swings in the yen as “market reaction to exclusively internal decision making”.

The G20’s communique tomorrow is unlikely to single out Japan but will shy away from the G7’s commitment not to target exchange rates, as China would be unlikely to sign up to such a statement.

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.”

Japan is bidding to shake off the economic torpor of the past two decades with a huge round of monetary and fiscal expansion aimed at hitting a new 2 per cent inflation target. 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 over “a politicisation of the exchange rate”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Ashdown Group: Client Services Manager - Relationship Management - London

£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Guru Careers: In-House / Internal Recruiter

£25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...

Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project