Central bankers see slowdown but no recession

AP News
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Posted: Sep 12, 2011 3:35 PM
Central bankers see slowdown but no recession

The world's leading central bankers said Monday that while the global economy is slowing they do not expect it to enter recession, but stand ready to provide liquidity support to banks in need.

The recoveries in major developed economies are grinding to a halt, raising fears among investors of another recession unless governments and central banks provide new stimulus.

"We are certainly observing ourselves the slowing down of the global economy," said European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet as chairman of his last Global Economy Meeting of the Bank for International Settlements. He added, however, that "We don't see a recession in the cards, not at all."

While Trichet said emerging economies were slowing down, though not dramatically, he said central banks did not expect growth in developed nations to come "close to zero."

Uncertainty over the slowdown and Europe's debt crisis have pushed bank stocks sharply lower in recent days, but Trichet said the central bankers believe they "have the weaponry to provide liquidity" to banks as needed worldwide provided there is adequate collateral.

Debt-hobbled nations must quickly regain control of their finances and "inspire confidence," Trichet told reporters at a press conference sponsored by the Basel-based BIS, an umbrella organization for the world's central banks and key standard-setter for the world economy.

He said it was necessary to take into account different countries' circumstances when planning debt-reduction measures.

Fears that Greece will not be able to cut its debt by as much as agreed in its rescue package are hurting financial markets.

Trichet said bankers were "examining the situation" afflicting debt-crippled Greece.

"All institutions are calling the Greek government to fully deliver on its commitments," he said. "I don't think there is any doubt that if they confirm very firmly all their commitments then they will be in a better situation."

Amid the uncertainty over whether Greece will be able to repay its bondholders, many of them big banks in Europe, financial stocks tumbled on Monday in Europe.

"Central banks stand ready to provide liquidity to banks as required," Trichet said. "We have the capacity as a central bank to provide liquidity on an unlimited basis and at fixed rate."

Banks give each other short-term loans in what is known as the interbank lending market. When market tensions increase, some banks will become reluctant to lend money for fear of not getting it back.

So central banks, such as the ECB in the eurozone, will offer such short-term loans at fixed interest rates and against collateral to support confidence in the banking system.

He added that the Swiss National Bank had explained its move to put a ceiling on the export-sapping strength of the Swiss franc and that the central banks understood its position.

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