G-20 Official: Communique Cites Aim For EU Firewall Decision Next Month
First Published Sunday, 26th February 2012 08:04 pm - © 2012 Dow Jones
By Ian Talley
Of Dow Jones NEWSWIRES
WASHINGTON (Dow Jones) -- World financial leaders from the Group of 20 industrialized and developing economies will include an explicit March timeline for Europe to boost the size of its emergency bailout fund, a senior G-20 official involved in the discussions said Sunday.
The official G-20 communique will link the strengthening of Europe's bailout fund as "essential input" into its considerations of bulking up the International Monetary Fund's own lending resources, the person said.
Although the G-20 statement won't incorporate specific amounts officials are targeting for the European Union firewall and IMF coffers, the finance ministers and central bankers pointed to an IMF study recommending $2 trillion in combined backstop facilities as a reference point.
The official said Germany, which has so far resisted efforts for a bigger bailout fund, and other euro-zone members are giving serious thought to the concept. Germany and other EU members indicated to the G-20 that one of their chief concerns is the political sequencing necessary to build parliamentary support for a stronger firewall.
The German government faces a tricky sequence of events over the next month, starting with a crucial vote Monday in the German parliament on Greece's second bailout package, worth some EUR130 billion, which Schaeuble said he expects to be approved. Another hurdle to be cleared is Greece's debt swap, in which investors are being asked to write down more than EUR100 billion. The level of participation in the debt swap will be known by the second week of March.
The major euro-zone countries "also want to see that the Greek debt swap is completed successfully before making any solid commitments" to the rescue funds, said one senior G-20 official who asked not to be named.
Schaeuble said that Germany's government would "certainly" seek the Bundestag's approval if it does decide to enlarge the rescue fund.
The U.S., the IMF and others has said Europe should at least combine funds from its temporary facility with a permanent fund for a EUR750 firewall. The IMF, meanwhile, is seeking to boost its lending power by $500 billion to a total of around $900 billion. The two efforts together would essentially create a $2 trillion backstop.
The G-20 is targeting its meetings in late April as an opportunity to review Europe's efforts and the need for more fund cash.
The senior official said that while the group praised Europe's crisis-response efforts to date, they are wary that a recent easing in market pressures on ailing economies there may cultivate complacency. That's why the communique will include a March timeline, the person said.
-By Ian Talley, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-631-5794; email@example.com
(Tom Fairless contributed to this report.)