Markets greet G20 growth plans with disregard

Mon, 24 Feb 2014  |  

UPDATE 1.20pm, Canberra time:

Aussie dollar now 0.8945; US stock futures down 0.2 per cent, Chinese stocks down 2 per cent, European stock futures down 0.5 to 1 per cent. Market assessing the G20 growth objective as useless, meaningly and unreachable. Hot air swallowed by an easily plied few, but not the markets.   SK

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It's Monday morning and financial markets are passing their judgment on the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governor's meeting in Sydney over the weekend.

The headline grabbing quest for an additional 2 per cent economic growth over 5 years for the world economy has been met with nonchalant indifference. US stocks futures are a piddling 0.1 per cent higher, recouping a fraction of the 0.3 per cent fall that was registered on Friday; commodity prices are flat; and in what should be a super-charging development for the Australian dollar – stronger global economic activity – the Aussie is less than 0.1 per cent higher at 0.8980.

The markets, in other words, which always react with speed and power to substantive news on the economy, are treating the commitment to stronger growth from the G20 with the disregard it deserves.

Of course, every government and policy maker wants stronger, sustainable economic growth in their economy. That is why the central banks in the industrialised countries have interest rates at or near zero and in many instances, have been printing money. They are not doing this for fun, but rather to try to reflate and grow their otherwise fragile economies.

Does anyone seriously think that, prior to the weekend G20 meeting, the governments of the US, France, India or Spain, for example, were not wanting to growth their economies 2 per cent faster over the next five years?

Of course they would if they could and they will if they can. While some of the media has succumbed to the dazzling press conferences and the chance to rub shoulders with the power of Christine Lagarde, Janet Yellen and Mark Carney, market players are not so gullible.

The way financial markets are trading in the wake of the G20 news suggests the quest for strong growth is hot air with no clear policy suggestions, no talk on consequences for inflation from the strong growth objective nor any indication as to the weight each member of the G20 will carry in the plan for $2 trillion extra GDP.

Stronger economic growth is always desirable*, but how to get it is the issue.

* Within an inflation targeting regime.

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