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G-8 leaders to marshal support for Arab nations; President Barack Obama and the other leaders will seek to marshal their combined economic might behind …


G-8 leaders to marshal support for Arab nations
May 25, 2011, 9:57 a.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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PARIS (AP) — Arab uprisings are pushing aside deficits and austerity as the biggest worry of the leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations this year.

President Barack Obama and the other leaders will seek to marshal their combined economic might behind the grass-roots democracy movements that have swept the Arab world — and driven away tourists and investors.

Egypt and Tunisia, where popular revolts this year overthrew authoritarian regimes, want to show G-8 leaders and international financiers that they are still sound investment destinations — which might be a tall order as the future shape and policies of their governments remains unclear.

The discussions starting Thursday in the chic Normandy resort of Deauville will see the host, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, bring together the heads of wealthy nations for what one of Sarkozy’s top advisers describes as “the founding moment” of a partnership between the G-8 and the Arab countries.

That partnership may be strained, however, by tensions over how to handle Libya’s rebel movement and entrenched leader Moammar Gadhafi. NATO appears to have no exit strategy, and efforts to oust Gadhafi remain elusive.

The leaders of the U.S., Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Italy and Russia will greet counterparts from Tunisia, Egypt and the head of the Arab League to hash out details of what some are calling a new “Marshall Plan” for these countries, similar to the massive U.S. aid to Europe after World War II that helped the continent rebuild and stave off communism.

The historic parallel is fitting, as Deauville is just a short drive along the English Channel from the D-Day landing beaches where the U.S. and its allies began to roll back the Third Reich in 1944.

A top Sarkozy official drew another historical analogy, saying the aid and investment to be promised to the Arab nations would resemble that which the G-8 offered to Eastern and Central European nations after the collapse of communism in 1989.

Last week President Barack Obama said the U.S. has asked the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to present a plan at the G-8 summit that sets a path to stabilize and modernize the economies of Tunisia and Egypt.

The U.S. will forgive up to $1 billion in Egyptian debt and guarantee another $1 billion to finance infrastructure and new jobs. Obama said he will ask Congress to finance enterprise funds that will provide money for investment in both countries — a request that comes as Congress seeks to cut spending.

Tunisia, followed by Egypt, kicked off change around the Arab world, as broad-based popular movements took to the streets demanding greater rights and political representation from their authoritarian governments.

But the street demonstrations in Cairo and Tunis that thrilled and inspired the Arab world also drove away the tourists and investors on which these economies are heavily dependent.

“The first thing they will be looking for is direct financial aid,” said Said Hirsh, a Middle East economist with Capital Economics consultancy in London. “Both countries need quite a lot of money considering the hit to their economies and their revenues.”

While U.S. officials say G-8 countries will discuss their role in the process, they say it is too soon to reach a deal on dollar amounts for assistance.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, a London-based institution set up in 1991 to foster transition to market economies in post-communist Europe, could be “repurposed” to focus its expertise on the southern Mediterranean region, a top official in Sarkozy’s office said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of protocol.

The heads of the World Bank and the United Nations will also be present and add their signatures to the partnership declaration. Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, under house arrest in New York following his indictment for sexual assault, will be replaced for the event by the institution’s acting managing director John Lipsky.

Finding a permanent replacement for Strauss-Kahn is likely to take up a good part of the summiteers’ small talk.

Nuclear safety will be another topic, with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan scheduled to provide leaders with an update on the continuing crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

The future of the Internet will also figure in the G-8 leaders’ talks. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Eric Schmidt of Google and other Internet executives took part in two days of debates focused broadly on the Internet’s impact on the global economy. Several of the Internet conference’s speakers will then take policy recommendations to Deauville in talks with the G-8 leaders.

Police have established one security cordon around the conference center where the leaders are meeting, and another perimeter encompassing all of Deauville. Local ports, train stations and the airport will be shut from Wednesday to Friday, and a no-fly zone enforced over the town.

The show of force may have discouraged radicals and other protesters from attempting to organize demonstrations close to the summit. Anti-G8 protesters plan symbolic demonstrations in the neighboring towns of Caen and Le Havre, but they do not plan to try to disrupt the event in Deauville itself, according to a statement circulated by radical groups online.

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Associated Press writers Julie Pace in Washington, D.C., Geir Moulson in Berlin, Charmaine Noronha in Toronto, David Stringer in London and Paul Schemm in Rabat, Morocco contributed to this report.

Greg Keller can be reached at http://twitter.com/Greg_Keller

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The : Greek debt restructuring would be a “recipe for catastrophe” …


ECB official blasts ‘vested interests’ in US, UK
May 18, 2011, 10:24 a.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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LAGONISI, Greece (AP) — The European Central Bank‘s chief economist said a Greek debt restructuring would be a “recipe for catastrophe” and blamed “vested interests” in Britain and the United States for fueling market pressure on the country.

As Greece announced deeper cuts, Juergen Stark said Wednesday that the struggling eurozone country’s “debt sustainability is insured” as long as it fully complies with its internationally monitored austerity program.

Asked about the markets’ hostility to Greek efforts, Stark said: “This is not the view of all market participants, to be very clear. This is a discussion triggered from London and New York. I don’t know what is behind it — vested interests, people topping their books and so on. So it’s more complicated than just (saying) what markets expect.”

Stark made the comments during a financial conference at a resort near Athens.

Greece’s Socialist government was told by the European Union this week to take urgent measures to keep its austerity program on target, as part of its commitments for the €110 billion ($156 billion) package of bailout loans it is receiving from EU countries and the International Monetary Fund.

Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou heeded the latest EU warning, and confirmed that additional austerity measures worth €6 billion ($8.5 billion) for 2011 would be announced in the coming days.

Greece on Tuesday vowed to slash its bloated civil service by 150,000 people by 2015 and effectively ended government jobs for life.

Papaconstantinou insisted that the latest measures would not include more across-the-board salary and pension cuts that have sparked numerous labor protests.

In Athens, police scuffled with striking municipal workers outside parliament and used pepper spray to disperse protesters.

Greece remains frozen out of bond markets by sky-high interest rates as investors fret that the country may eventually have to restructure its debt, which is set to top 150 percent of gross domestic product this year.

Stark said the restructuring option had not been properly thought through.

“Debt restructuring would wipe out part or all capital of Greek banks,” he said. “So it would be a recipe for catastrophe.”

He urged Greece to “double its effort” on structural reforms that critics say have been stagnating and insisted that the austerity measures would be enough to bring the country back on its feet.

“Greece is solvent,” he said. “This is an important message.”

Stark’s comments underlined the split among European officials over whether Greece should consider delaying repayment of its crushing debt load. Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the eurozone finance ministers group, held the door open Tuesday to what he called a “reprofiling” of Greece debt — a voluntary extension of bond maturities.

Another top ECB official, Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, backed up Stark, saying even a “soft” or voluntary stretching out of repayment would be “devastating for overall financial stability,” according to the Ansa news agency.

“Time has been wasted these past months in the search for a way out, for an easy solution, like restructuring the debt,” Bini Smaghi was quoted as saying. He said government failure to pay all its debts would have “an immediate impact on the banking system.”

Officials are concerned Greece’s troubles could harm Europe’s economic recovery by inflicting losses on banks elsewhere in Europe that hold Greek bonds.

European officials are weighing whether to give Greece another bailout. Last year’s rescue loans were aimed at giving the country breathing space so it could return to borrowing from bond markets next year.

But it remains unable to borrow from private investors as its economy deteriorates and it struggles to meet the terms of the first bailout.

International debt monitors are currently in Greece to inspect the progress of cost-cutting reforms, and again warned that Greece needed to do more work to avoid sliding off target.

“We are in a situation where if we do not get this acceleration of structural reforms, the (budget) deficit will get entrenched at where it is now, around 10 percent,” IMF monitor Poul Thomsen told the conference.

Thomsen acknowledged pain was unavoidable given the country’s massive fiscal adjustment.

“It’s impossible to deal with a deficit of 15.5 percent of GDP without having a recession,” he said. “People are dreaming if they think you can do this kind of adjustment without having a recession.”

Thomsen, dismissing skepticism from analysts, urged Greece to speed up its ambitious privatization program worth €50 billion ($71 billion) through 2015.

“Privatization makes a real difference. If the targets can be realized it would change very substantially the debt sustainability discussions,” Thomsen said.

The government announced it had chosen a series of advisers for privatization projects — included Deutsche Bank and the National Bank of Greece as advisers for the sale of the state stake in the OPAP gambling monopoly; Credit Suisse and EFG Eurobank Equities for the privatization of the state lottery tickets company, and Credit Agricole and Emporiki Bank for the sale of its stake in the horse racing company.

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Theodora Tongas in Lagonisi, Elena Becatoros in Athens, and David McHugh in Frankfurt contributed to this report.

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China is using high-level meetings to urge the United States to allow more technology exports


China urges US to lift controls on hi-tech exports
May 10, 2011, 6:49 a.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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WASHINGTON (AP) — China is using high-level meetings to urge the United States to allow more technology exports into the booming Chinese economy as a way of balancing trade.

The United States, meanwhile, has criticized the communist-led nation’s latest crackdown on democracy advocates, arguing that long-term stability depends on respecting human rights.

Both sides issued familiar grievances at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which began in Washington on Monday, but they took pains to stress a generally positive track in relations between the two economic superpowers.

State Councilor Dai Bingguo said common interests between the world’s two largest economies now make them “inseparable” and destined to grow more interdependent.

The annual two-day round of talks brings together leaders on economics, foreign policy and security. The meetings, involving scores of officials, wrap up Tuesday with news conferences.

President Barack Obama met Dai and Chinese delegation leader Vice Premier Wang Qishan after Monday’s deliberations. He encouraged China to implement policies to support “balanced global growth as well as a more balanced bilateral economic relationship.” On human rights, he underscored his support for freedom of expression and political participation, a White House statement said.

This year’s dialogue follows a January state visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao that helped eased tensions over the U.S. arms sales to self-governing Taiwan, which Beijing regards as part of Chinese territory. The U.S. and China also have been at odds over China’s intervention in currency markets, which the U.S. says has kept the value of the yuan low against the dollar, giving an unfair advantage to Chinese exporters.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Monday softened the long-standing U.S. criticism of China’s economic policies, possibly in a belief that the outside pressure was proving counterproductive.

Geithner praised China’s efforts, which include a decision last June to resume allowing the yuan to rise in value against the dollar after freezing the currency’s value for two years during the height of the financial crisis. The yuan has risen by about 5 percent against the dollar since last summer. American manufacturers contend the yuan is still undervalued by as much as 40 percent.

The U.S. Treasury chief still urged China to allow its currency to appreciate at a faster rate and to allow Chinese consumer interest rates to rise. Both steps could help boost domestic demand and help lower America’s trade deficit, which hit an all-time high with China last year.

A Chinese official, however, blamed U.S. policies for the ballooning trade gap. Commerce Minister Chen Deming told a news conference that China’s currency appreciation was being carried out in a “very healthy manner.” He said the United States needed to change its own policies on high-tech sales and investment as a way to spur American manufacturing.

He took aim at the U.S. screening of Chinese foreign investment proposals, contending it was neither fair nor transparent. Most recently, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States rejected a takeover by private Chinese technology giant Huawei of a small U.S. computer company, 3Leaf, on national security grounds.

“We hope the United States can treat Chinese investment, including by state-owned enterprises, in a fair manner,” he said.

U.S. companies have their own long list of complaints: limited access to Chinese markets, theft of intellectual property, widespread use in China of counterfeit software and problems in seeking redress through China’s legal system.

At the ceremonial opening of the talks on Monday, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton offered blunt criticism of China’s human rights record, which Beijing regards as an internal matter. Clinton later had “very candid and honest” private discussions on the issue with Dai, U.S. officials said.

Since February, Chinese authorities have questioned or detained hundreds of lawyers, activists, journalists and bloggers after anonymous calls were made on the Internet for protests emulating those that have challenged and toppled authoritarian governments in the Middle East and North Africa. No such protests have taken place in China.

“We know over the long arc of history that societies that work toward respecting human rights are going to be more prosperous, stable and successful. That has certainly been proven time and time again, but most particularly in the last months,” Clinton said.

Dai said China had made progress in the area of human rights, but he did not mention the recent crackdown.

In Beijing on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said, “No country is perfect in its human rights record and there is no one-size-fits-all human rights policy.”

In unusually mild comments on a subject that Beijing is highly sensitive about, Jiang said, “China and the U.S. have different opinions in the area of human rights and we believe we can use dialogue to increase mutual understanding and mutual trust.”

This year’s talks for the first time included high-level military leaders from both nations, a move seen as a way to increase understanding between military commanders and reduce the risk of conflict. China’s military has expanded rapidly in the past 15 years, deploying missiles and naval assets that could challenge American supremacy in the region.

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India raises key interest rates by a half point


India raises key interest rates by a half point
May 3, 2011, 4:51 a.m. EDT

Journalist Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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MUMBAI, India (AP) — India’s central bank raised its key interest rate by half a percentage point Tuesday, its ninth hike in just over a year, warning that persistent inflation has become a threat to growth in Asia’s third-largest economy.

The bank said the short term lending rate — or repo rate — will go from 6.75 percent to 7.25 percent, with immediate effect.

The bank said that from now on it will set only one policy rate, the repo rate, and fix the reverse repo rate — or short-term borrowing rate — at 1 percentage point below the repo rate. Tuesday’s rise automatically brings the reverse repo rate to 6.25 percent.

“High inflation is inimical to sustained growth as it harms investment by creating uncertainty,” Reserve Bank Gov. D. Subbarao said Tuesday. “Current elevated rates of inflation pose significant risks to future growth.”

“The Reserve Bank will continue to persevere with its anti-inflationary stance,” he added.

Sixty percent of forecasters had anticipated a quarter point hike, while 40 percent had projected a half point hike, according to a CNBC-TV18 poll Tuesday morning.

The bank said it expects economic growth to slow to around 8 percent this fiscal year, from 8.6 percent last fiscal year. It said growth would be between 7.4 and 8.5 percent, if monsoon rains are normal and crude oil prices average $110 a barrel for the year ending March 31, 2012.

That is lower than New Delhi’s projection of 9 percent growth and dents the ruling Congress party’s hopes of using the gains of double-digit growth to alleviate poverty and create jobs for millions of young Indians. Most Indians live on less than $2 a day.

Business leaders decried the Reserve Bank of India‘s move as too aggressive.

“This is certainly a very hawkish monetary stand and one which would make the investment environment even more difficult,” Rajiv Kumar, director general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said in a statement. “We are afraid that with growth slowing down, as now admitted by the RBI, employment targets will not be achieved and this could generate greater social pressure.”

India’s economic growth moderated from 8.9 percent in the first half of last fiscal year to 8.2 percent in the second half, and the bank said high oil prices, inflation, a possible slackening in global demand for India’s exports, and the impact of rising interest rates will further depress output.

The bank said it expects inflation for the fiscal year to average 6 percent, with the potential to rise. It said inflation would remain close to March’s 9 percent for the first half of the fiscal year, before softening in the second half, despite pressure from high oil prices — which would likely force New Delhi to raise regulated petrol and diesel prices — and a lagged passthrough of rising input costs to consumers.

“They’ve acknowledged they are willing to sacrifice some growth to control inflation,” said Samiran Chakraborty, head of India research at Standard Chartered in Mumbai. “This is a sea change in monetary policy. It will help bring down inflation.”

Wages in India have been rising faster than inflation, crimping corporate margins along with higher input costs.

“Inflation expectations arising from the demand side need to be contained,” Chakraborty said. “This rate hike was needed to make sure we’re not into a wage price spiral.”

India suffers from the worst inflation of any major Asian economy — economists describe India’s inflation as “virulent” and “unparalleled” — prompting the Reserve Bank of India to raise rates more than its regional peers.

It hiked the effective interest rate by 3.5 percentage points prior to Tuesday’s move. That has put pressure on growth, with capital goods production and investment both softening, but it hasn’t been enough to contain inflation.

High oil prices, loose fiscal policy and supply constraints have muted the impact of the Reserve Bank’s aggressive anti-inflation stance.

The Reserve Bank of India also increased the savings bank deposit rate Tuesday from 3.5 percent to 4.0 percent, as it considers deregulating bank deposit rates. The rise — and potential deregulation — will squeeze profit margins at Indian banks.

The benchmark Sensex index was down 1.7 percent in early afternoon trade in Mumbai, with autos and banks leading declines.

strong rebound on Wall Street spurred Asian stocks higher in early trading Wednesday


Asian markets higher after rebound on Wall Street

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BANGKOK (AP) — A strong rebound on Wall Street spurred by strong earnings reports and better-than-expected housing starts sent Asian stocks higher in early trading Wednesday.

The Nikkei rose 1.4 percent to 9,572.25 despite a government report showing that exports for March dropped for the first time in 16 months — one of many consequences to be felt from the mammoth earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country’s industrial northeast last month.

South Korea’s Kospi was 1.6 percent higher to 2,157.70, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.9 percent to 23,735.65. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and Australia were also higher. Mainland Chinese shares were mixed, with the Shanghai Composite Index gaining 0.3 percent while the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index dropped marginally.

In New York on Tuesday, health care giant Johnson & Johnson rose 3.7 percent, leading the 30 companies in the Dow Jones industrial average, with earnings that beat Wall Street’s expectations.

In Washington, the Commerce Department reported that builders broke ground in March on more new homes than analysts expected. Home construction rose 7.2 percent from February.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.5 percent to close at 12,266.75. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.6 percent to 1,312.62. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.4 percent to 2,744.97.

Major stock indexes posted their largest one-day drop in over a month Monday after S&P said it might lower its rating on U.S. government bonds if Washington failed to tackle its mounting debts. While the rating agency kept its U.S. debt rating at AAA, the highest possible, it warned that there was a one-in-three chance it would downgrade U.S. debt within two years.

After the market closed, tech heavyweight Intel Corp. said earnings jumped 29 percent, surpassing estimates. Business spending on new computers offset a design error in one of its chips. Intel rose 6.2 percent in extended trading.

The dollar strengthened to 82.91 yen from 82.37 yen late Tuesday in New York. The euro rose against the greenback to $1.4388 from $1.4340.

Benchmark crude for June delivery rose 17 cents a barrel to $108.45 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract settled at $108.28 per barrel late Tuesday

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Poll: US economy improving despite global events


Poll: US economy improving despite global events
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WASHINGTON (AP)Economists say the U.S. economy is gaining strength despite political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East and last month’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

A survey from the National Association for Business Economics finds that economists are hopeful that the broader economy is substantially improving, with rising employment reported for the fifth quarter in a row. The survey found that “companies appear to be positioning themselves for a firming economic environment,” said Shawn DuBravac, an economist with the Consumer Electronics Association, who analyzed the findings.

The outlook for employment rose slightly, reaching a 12-year high. No firms reported significant layoffs, with the only reductions coming from already planned cuts.

Sales increased for the third consecutive quarter, profit margins continued to improve and the number of economists whose firms increased spending over the previous quarter held steady. Nearly all of the 72 economists surveyed, about 94 percent, now expect the economy to grow at least 2 percent in 2011.

The quarterly survey includes the views of economists for private companies and trade groups who are NABE members. The data are reported by broad industry groupings. Many results in the survey are expressed through the Net Rising Index, or NRI — the percentage of panelists reporting better outlooks minus the percentage whose outlook is bleaker.

The survey looked at two new questions for its April survey, gauging the financial impact of anti-government unrest in the Arab world and the deadly Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Nearly 60 percent of those polled said they expected higher costs because of political turmoil in Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria and about 52 percent said they expected economic growth to be weaker in 2011 because of the protests and fighting.

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which left nearly 28,000 people dead or missing and sparked a crisis at a nuclear plant, had less of an impact on the economic forecasts. About 31 percent said costs would be higher and 40 percent said it would weaken the broader economic recovery.

In the first quarter of this year, 63 percent of economists said sales rose from the previous quarter — the highest percentage since 1994. The NRI rating for sales rose 11 points from the previous quarter to 54, and the improvement was across all industry sectors: goods, utilities, information and communications, finance, insurance and real estate, and services.

Profit margins rose to an NRI figure of 31 — the highest rating since 1983. The number of economists reporting rising profits has almost doubled over the past year, to 45 percent from 25 percent.

Prices rose, with about one third of those surveyed saying their firms had made increases over the past three months. Two-thirds of the goods-producing industry, which includes farming, mining, construction and manufacturing, reported their firms had raised prices. Similarly, the costs paid for materials rose for the third quarter in a row and wages and salaries jumped to the highest reading since a survey in October 2007.

The survey was conducted between March 16 and 31.

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The world’s major economies are pledging to provide support for the regime changes


Major economies pledge support for regime changes

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The world’s major economies are pledging to provide support for the regime changes that are occurring in the Middle East and North Africa. An Obama administration official is comparing what is occurring now to the fall of the Berlin Wall more than two decades ago.

The United States and France issued a joint statement after talks on Thursday saying major nations stood ready with international lending institutions to provide economic support for the new governments in Egypt and Tunisia.

U.S. Treasury Undersecretary Lael Brainard wrote in an opinion piece that the transformations that were occurring in the region could be as successful in unlocking economic prosperity as events after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said in their statement summarizing the talks that the group would put together a joint action plan with early recommendations coming in May to support “inclusive and sustained growth, transparency and improved governance.”

Brainard wrote in an article for Foreign Policy magazine‘s website that “across the Middle East and North Africa, unprecedented upheavals are creating historic opportunities to expand the circle of democratic societies.”

Brainard cautioned that the reforms and efforts to provide greater economic growth for the region’s young people would take a number of years, with many challenges ahead. “We must be prepared to work through the setbacks and scale up successes,” she wrote.

The discussions on the Middle East occurred at the start of three days of finance talks designed to deal with various challenges facing the global economy, from soaring food and energy prices to continued tensions between the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies, over currencies and trade.

The United States was being represented at the talks by Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The discussions Friday were taking place among the Group of 20, which includes traditional economic powers such as the United States and European nations and major developing powers such as Brazil, China and India.

Lagarde was leading the talks because France is this year’s head of the G-20, the group that since the financial crisis in 2008 has become the major steering body for the global economy.

The G-20 talks were scheduled to conclude Friday afternoon with a joint statement of goals and news conferences by Lagarde and other finance officials.

The finance talks will wrap up on Saturday with meetings of the policy-setting panels of the 187-nation International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick said Thursday that a major goal for his institution will be to win support from the rich countries for more assistance to poor nations that are facing food crises. A 36 percent surge in food prices over the past year has pushed an additional 44 million people into poverty.

“We have to put food first and protect the poor and vulnerable, who spend most of their money on food,” Zoellick told reporters Thursday.

The G-20 talks will be focused on making more progress on a set of economic indicators that the group can use to gauge whether countries are pursuing the correct policies to prevent the growth of dangerous imbalances in trade and government debt, which contributed to the last financial crisis.

The United States is pushing for the indicators to be set up, hoping they can be used to bring more pressure on China to allow its currency to rise in value against the dollar as a way to narrow the huge trade gap that exists between China and the U.S.

However, Chinese officials do not want the rebalancing process to be used as a way to attack China’s currency policies, and it was unclear whether any progress will be made during the Washington talks.

“There are lots of things to worry about, and we want to make sure we don’t fall back into another crisis as we did not that long ago,” Canadian Finance Minister James Flaherty told reporters.

IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said that while the global economy began growing again last year after the most severe downturn since World War II, there still were multiple risks to the recovery.

“The recovery is getting stronger but … it is not the recovery we want because it is still imbalanced,” Strauss-Kahn said. “We must be aware of complacency, and we need urgent action.”

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Associated Press writer Harry Dunphy contributed to this report.

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