Many participants at the G20 meeting expressed concern about the impact that the trade conflict could have on growth, which has already slowed noticeably in many places. They believe that it is especially important to take advantage of the still favourable outlook to reduce debt and press ahead with structural reforms. The finance ministers and central bank governors also expressed alarm about the growing debt levels in developing economies. They said that, in addition to reducing debt, it was also important to enhance debt transparency.
The report of the Eminent Persons Group on Global Financial Governance (EPG) – a group of experienced, high-ranking experts – was very well received. In particular, there was broad support for the idea that multilateral development banks need to function more effectively as a system. The proposed streamlining of the G20 process was also welcomed. The proposals will now be discussed in detail in the appropriate G20 working group. The participants also welcomed the progress made in promoting infrastructure investments in developing and emerging economies.
Finally, the finance ministers and central bank governors unanimously reaffirmed their strong support for the Compact with Africa, a process aimed at improving conditions for private investment in African countries which was launched under Germany’s G20 presidency. The key role that private-sector investment plays in boosting growth and reducing poverty in Africa was highlighted repeatedly. The general consensus was that this is a long-term project that should definitely be continued.
The general focus of this year’s annual IMF meeting was on the mounting risks to global economic growth and the ways in which these can be addressed through joint action. The IMF expects global growth in 2018 and 2019 to be 3.7%, which is still a strong result. In view of high debt levels, political uncertainties and the normalisation of monetary policy, the IMF has come to the conclusion that short-term risks in particular have increased. The IMF is also concerned about the escalating trade conflicts.
Looking back at the 2008 financial crisis, the IMF underlined the need to ensure that governments have the capacity to act in the event of crisis. In this context, the IMF considers the excessive levels of private and public debt in many countries to be problematic, especially given that many countries have not yet regained leeway for monetary policy action.
The German Finance Ministry shares the IMF’s views and supports its recommendations. Ten years after the Lehman crisis, the international community must also keep up its efforts to maintain and further improve financial market regulation. This is especially important in what is known as the shadow banking sector.