G20 pledges support, but investors want action

September 23, 2011: 12:12 PM ET
World Bank president Robert Zoellick speaks during a press conference at the International Monetary Funds as officials gather in Washington D.C.

World Bank president Robert Zoellick speaks during a press conference at the International Monetary Funds as officials gather in Washington D.C.

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) -- Finance ministers and central bankers from the world's largest economies reiterated their pledge to stabilize the global economy, but they failed to impress investors, who are eager for the Group of 20 to take action.

In a statement issued late Thursday, the G20 finance and monetary authorities said they remain "committed to a strong and coordinated international response to address the renewed challenges facing the global economy."

The vaguely reassuring words echoed a statement from the G7 finance ministers earlier this month and only seemed to aggravate investors, who feel the time for talk is over.

"The only plan to stabilize the world financial system ahead of a known and imminent shock is to do nothing other than what has already been done," said Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics, in a report. "To say this is a disappointment is an understatement."

The statement was released as finance officials from around the world gathered in Washington for the annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The meeting takes place as the outlook for the global economy has darkened and the debt crisis in Europe has intensified.

Europe's debt crisis: 5 things you need to know

In particular, investors have been frustrated with the slow and inconsistent steps policymakers in Europe have taken to prevent a default by Greece. The nation's long-standing debt problems have threatened to spill over into the European banking system, where many institutions do not have enough capital to withstand a significant writedown of sovereign debt.

Despite these pressing concerns, many experts doubt that the summit will produce any concrete actions.

When asked what the G20 can actually do to stabilize the global economy, a senior U.S. Treasury official demurred.

"This is just one in a series of high-level meetings," the official said Tuesday in a press briefing.

Indeed, many of the ministers in Washington this week have been in talks nearly every weekend this month and more meetings will take place in the weeks ahead, including a summit of G20 political leaders in November.

The Treasury official said the G20 will announce additional actions as the talks progress, but "I wouldn't look for one particular action to come from one particular meeting."

In its statement, the G20 outlined the "strong actions" that global powers have already proposed to "maintain financial stability, restore confidence and support growth," including measures announced in July by European leaders to contain the euro-zone debt crisis.

The officials said euro area nations will implement an overhaul of the European Financial Stability Facility before their next meeting. The next two-day G20 meeting starts Oct. 14.

Greek default: What it would mean

Under the proposed reforms, the stability fund is to be given greater power to buy sovereign debt in the secondary market and provide funds for governments to shore up banks with thin capital cushions.

But the overhaul must be approved by the individual governments of all 17 nations that use the euro, something that has already been called into question.

In a nod to concerns about the European banking system, the G20 said it will "ensure that banks are adequately capitalized and have sufficient access to funding to deal with current risks." However, the group offered no indication how it would do so, beyond adhering to previously agreed to capital requirements under the Basel III accord.

Meanwhile, the G20 said central banks around the world will continue to provide liquidity to banks that cannot raise funds in the wholesale market or by selling stock. To top of page

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