G20 finance chiefs meet to calm nerves as China slows

ANKARA - G20 finance ministers and central bank chiefs from the world's top 20 economies meet in Turkey on Friday hoping to calm the nerves of markets rattled by China's slowing performance and the prospect of a US Federal Reserve rate hike.

The finance chiefs are gathering in Ankara at the time of alarming indicators from the global economy, with the latest poor industrial orders from Europe's powerhouse Germany.

Under Turkey's G20 presidency - a role that in 2016 goes to China - the meeting will formally get underway in the afternoon.

But a source close to the talks said that it is not likely that the two major sources of concern - China's slowdown and the Fed's monetary policy - will be directly referenced in the final communique.

"It's not the way things are done here" at the G20 said the source, saying it would be highly unusual for the statement, whose every word is negotiated months in advance, to refer to a specific central bank or country.

It would also be next to impossible to produce a unified text on the issue, with major divergences between the economic superpowers of the world.

The United States has already publicly rebuked Beijing for the opacity of its statistics and its strategy of supporting the domestic economy before anything else.

US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said on Thursday that he would be looking for China's leaders to take responsibility for their sharp devaluation of the Yuan in August.

"They have to understand, and I make this point to them quite clearly, that there's an economic and a political reality to things like exchange rates," Lew said in a CNBC interview.

The managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, has meanwhile urged the world's top economies to be vigilant in the face of the consequences of the slowdown in China.

This has already been seen in days of panic selling on stock exchanges and a further sharp fall in the price of oil.

Emerging market alarm -

As well as China, markets have also been rattled by uncertainty over the future monetary policy of the Fed.

Markets have for months been speculating over the possibility of a rate rise from September which could be justified on the grounds of the robustness of the US economy.

But a tightening of US monetary policy would also have the effect of hoovering up liquidity from the global economy - bad news for key emerging markets like Brazil and Russia which are in a deep slump.

It would also be worrisome for host Turkey which has seen its own growth slow amid persistently high inflation and a sharp fall in the value of its currency.

London-based consultancy Capital Economics said Friday that on some measures the slowdown in emerging markets in the second quarter of this year means their growth is now not much faster than developed markets.

"In pretty much every case (in the second quarter), growth slowed and several major emerging markets, notably Brazil and Russia, are now in recession," its chief emerging markets economist Neil Shearing said in a note to clients.

The IMF meanwhile indicated Thursday that the Fed has the room to hold off from raising interest rates for the moment amid a "pretty bumpy" global economic situation.

The Fed has held its benchmark federal funds rate at the zero level since 2008 to pull the economy back from the economic crisis.

But since last year it has been flagging a likely first rate hike sometime this year, with eyes now on the September 16-17 policy meeting for a possible move.

Adding to the pessimism, the European Central Bank downgraded Thursday its forecasts for both inflation and economic growth in the single currency area over the next few years.

Rumours that Brazil's finance minister Joaquim Levy was about to step down added to growing jitters in the world's seventh-biggest economy. But the government denied the speculation.