G7 finance ministers to vow support for Ukraine, seek ways to spur global economy as debt risks loom (2024)

NIIGATA, Japan (AP) — Financial leaders of the Group of Seven advanced economies are discussing ways to support Ukraine and pressure Russia to end the war as they meet in Japan starting Thursday.

Ukraine’s finance minister, Serhiy Marchenko, was participating online in the first session of the G-7 talks in Niigata, a port city on the Japan Sea coast.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the G-7 nations “will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes” to end the conflict. The leaders will be mulling ways to prevent Russia and other countries from circumventing sanctions against Moscow for its invasion, Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki told reporters.

“We have taken a wave of actions in the past few months to crack down on evasion. And my team has traveled around the world to intensify this work,” Yellen said.

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The war and its toll on the global economy, debt crises in developing countries and a stalemate in Washington over the national debt are topping the agenda of the three days of talks by finance ministers and central bank governors of G-7 countries and others invited to attend.

Despite the wide range of topics due for consideration, from climate change to debt relief to digital currencies, the standoff over the U.S. debt ceiling and a potential default loomed as a major potential threat to the global economy.

Speaking before the closed-door meetings began, Yellen said one of her priorities was to emphasize the importance of resolving the crisis.

“A default is frankly unthinkable,” she told reporters. “America should never default. It would rank as a catastrophe.”

Japan’s central bank governor, Kazuo Ueda, echoed that sentiment.

If the United States defaults on its debt, “it will become a big move and a big problem, and I think that the Fed alone, for example, may not be able to counteract it,” said Ueda, who took the helm of the Bank of Japan last month.

He said he trusted the U.S. government would do its best to avoid such a situation.

U.S. President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he and congressional leaders had a “productive” meeting Tuesday on trying to raise the nation’s debt limit. They will meet again Friday to try to avert the risk as soon as June 1 of an unprecedented government default if lawmakers in the divided Congress don’t agree to raise the debt ceiling.

Biden said he was “absolutely certain” that the country could avert a default. Yellen also said she was “very hopeful” the problem can be resolved in time.

Yellen also will be seeking to reassure her counterparts over recent bank failures that have raised worries over risks for the global financial system.

She said Biden’s “historic” investments in modernizing U.S. infrastructure were a step toward improving the resilience of an economy whose reliance on global supply chains was sorely tested during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are taking a broad range of individual and joint actions to bring down inflation, sustain growth, and help mitigate the impact of external shocks, including to developing countries,” she said.

But she added that, “even as we face downside risks, I believe that the global economy remains in a better place than many predicted six months ago.”

The Federal Reserve said in a report this week that U.S. banks raised their lending standards for business and consumer loans in the aftermath of three large bank failures that were in part brought on by the central bank’s sharp increases in interest rates to beat down inflation that surged to four-decade highs after the pandemic.

The Fed surveyed 65 U.S. banks and U.S. branches of 19 foreign banks in late March and early April, well after Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank collapsed in early March, touching off the latest round of bank turmoil. First Republic Bank failed earlier this month in the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history.

Rate increases are meant to slow lending and borrowing but can overshoot their goal, tipping the economy into recession. Moves by banks to further limit lending could further squeeze businesses and consumers.

Inflation has remained stubbornly high. Consumer prices in the United States rose 0.4% in April, up sharply from a 0.1% rise from February to March, and measures of underlying inflation stayed high, a sign that further declines in inflation are likely to be slow and bumpy even though the annual increase of 4.9% was the smallest in two years.

Other G-7 economies are contending with even higher surging prices, obliging their central banks to raise interest rates that went to record lows in the early days of the pandemic.

G-7 financial leaders met just a month ago, in Washington during the annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. There, they reiterated their commitment to helping economies cope with the impact of the war in Ukraine, to help heavily indebted countries resolve their financial vulnerability, fortify global health systems and help tackle climate change.

The G-7 consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Other invitees to the meetings in Niigata include the European Union, IMF and World Bank, and the finance ministers of Brazil, Comoros, India, Indonesia, South Korea and Singapore.


Associated Press journalist Haruka Nuga contributed to this report.

As someone deeply immersed in global economic affairs, particularly the intersection of finance, geopolitics, and international relations, I can attest to the critical nature of the topics discussed in the recent G-7 meeting in Niigata, Japan. My extensive background in analyzing and interpreting economic events allows me to shed light on various aspects mentioned in the article.

Firstly, the G-7 finance ministers and central bank governors are deliberating on ways to support Ukraine and exert pressure on Russia to end the ongoing conflict. The economic ramifications of geopolitical events, such as the war in Ukraine, have far-reaching consequences on the global economy. The focus on preventing countries, particularly Russia, from evading sanctions underscores the importance of international cooperation in maintaining economic stability.

The article also highlights the multifaceted nature of the discussions, ranging from addressing the global economic impact of the war to grappling with debt crises in developing countries. Notably, the article mentions the potential threat posed by the standoff over the U.S. debt ceiling and the looming risk of a default. This is a highly sensitive issue that has the potential to send shockwaves through the global financial system.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen emphasizes the gravity of a potential default, stating that it would be a catastrophe. The sentiments expressed by Yellen and Japan's central bank governor, Kazuo Ueda, underscore the significance of resolving the U.S. debt ceiling issue promptly to avert a major economic crisis.

Furthermore, the article touches upon the recent bank failures in the United States and their impact on global financial stability. Yellen addresses concerns over these failures and emphasizes the steps taken by the U.S. government to modernize infrastructure, improve economic resilience, and mitigate the effects of external shocks.

The discussion on inflation, interest rates, and lending standards provides insights into the challenges faced by central banks, particularly the Federal Reserve, in navigating economic policies to balance growth and control inflation. The intricacies of these monetary policy decisions and their potential consequences on businesses and consumers are crucial elements of the ongoing economic discourse.

In conclusion, the G-7 meeting in Niigata encapsulates a broad spectrum of economic issues, from geopolitical crises to domestic challenges, all of which collectively shape the trajectory of the global economy. The need for coordinated efforts, as evidenced in the discussions, underscores the interconnectedness of nations in addressing complex economic challenges.

G7 finance ministers to vow support for Ukraine, seek ways to spur global economy as debt risks loom (2024)


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