Global officials watching US debt talks


WASHINGTON – The threat posed by the United States debt stand-off is sure to be a prime topic of discussion when finance officials from major nations gather for their latest stocktaking of the global economy.

Finance ministers and central bank officials from the Group of 20 nations are in Washington ahead of weekend meetings of the 188-nation International Monetary Fund and its sister lending organization, the World Bank.

US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke will represent the United States at the discussions. Fed Vice-Chair Janet Yellen will also participate in some of the meetings over the weekend. The sessions will be something of a farewell appearance for Bernanke, who will be attending his last G-20 session, and a coming-out for Yellen, who was tapped this week by President Barack Obama to succeed Bernanke as head of the Fed.

The G-20 session is scheduled to wrap up in early afternoon Friday with a news conference by Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. Russia is chairing the G-20 this year. The G-20 represents around 85 per cent of the global economy. It includes established industrial nations such as the United States, Germany and France and rapidly growing emerging market economies such as China, B razil and India.

The finance officials are meeting at a time when growth in emerging market economies has cooled and some of them have struggled to contain the fall-out from worries over rising interest rates if the Federal Reserve begins trimming its bond purchases.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde yesterday warned that a failure by the United States to increase its borrowing limit could do deep damage to both the American and global economies. (AP) 

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