Saturday 20 January 2018

EU debt crisis is ticking time bomb, Davos warned

Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Photo: Getty Images
Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Photo: Getty Images
Also attending Davos is Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Photo: Reuters

Maeve Dineen

WORLD leaders are working to deactivate the time bomb that Europe's debt crisis represents, Mexican President Felipe Calderon said yesterday.



Mexico currently holds the presidency of the Group of 20 leading nations.

Addressing a seminar on the Challenges for the G20, Mr Calderon said the world should intervene to prevent Italy's liquidity problem becoming a solvency issue.

Meanwhile, Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen said increasing bailout money wouldn't help resolve Europe's debt crisis.

"I don't believe fresh money on the table is the only possible solution," Ms Katainen said.

"If the money is needed, then we need to talk about it, but it's very difficult to find any fresh money.

"It's politically difficult, but before we see how well the countries can behave there is no need for fresh money."

ECB

The European Central Bank has functioned "solidly" throughout the crisis, she said. "They have done their part during the crisis," Mrs Katainen said. "I wouldn't put more pressure on the ECB."

The involvement of private investors in the Greek bailout is "the best we can get," Ms Katainen added.

She described the upcoming fiscal compact as the "second best solution".

"Right now we are looking at the fiscal compact. It would have been better if we could have done that within our treaties but we couldn't.

"So it is the second best solution. It is still a good solution. Hopefully we will conclude a framework on Monday for disciplining our countries," she added.

Ms Katainen said Europe will accept austerity as long as Europe also talks about growth for the region.

Delegates at the conference also displayed concerns about China and the possibility that the world's second-largest economy may mismanage the slowing economy there.

"There is a mix of hope and concern. People worry on two fronts. One is that China is still far too export-dependent and that makes it very vulnerable," said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight about the prevailing mood of discussions about China.

"The second worry is the housing situation. It is tricky because there are very few countries that were able to deflate a housing bubble without creating some other damage."

China

Most economists expect China to grow at 8pc or more this year, slowing from 9.2pc in 2011 but in keeping with Beijing's aim to steer the economy away from double-digit export-led growth to more sustainable, broader-based expansion.

The relatively low-key Chinese presence at the annual gathering of the rich and powerful, mainly because it coincided with the Lunar New Year public holiday, may also be a sign that China's focus is on domestic challenges.

(Additional reporting by Reuters)

Irish Independent

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