Tags: Lew | IMF | US | Ukraine

Treasury's Lew Speaks on IMF Meeting

By    |   Tuesday, 15 April 2014 07:46 AM

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew met with the press on April 10 at George Washington University to discuss the issues addressed at the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. The briefing generally followed the outline of the more detailed presentation of IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, but Lew was given a fairly rough ride concerning the U.S. strategy for dealing with the crisis in the Ukraine.

Lew repeated the message of Lagarde that the theme of the meetings was that the growth agenda is top priority for the global community, and it has reached a turning point since the "problems" and the subsequent recovery. He then gave his own version of her summary of conditions in the world economy, citing the IMFs World Economic Outlook as evidence that the United States has gained strength and become a leading driver of global growth, but this country is still struggling to create jobs. Lew declared that the president is committed to this challenge by fostering growth and job creation and expanding opportunity, all reflected in the current budget submitted by the administration, which calls for investments in infrastructure, reform of business taxation, expansion of manufacturing, strategies to boost competition and bolster the middle class while maintaining fiscal discipline.

He added that it is clear that the euro area is experiencing low inflation and modest growth, and Japan is employing "three arrows" as it recovers from deflation. He praised China for its stability, growth and "remarkable economic progress" and looks forward to further appreciation of China's currency. According to Lew, volatility in the performance of emerging economies "has receded."

A clearly skeptical press sparred with Lew about the extent to which the countries working to support the Ukraine are willing to impose stricter sanctions if the Russians don't step back from their annexation of Ukrainian territory.

One reporter referred to an observation by the Ukrainian finance minister that the Russians are laughing at the West. Lew responded that sanctions have affected the Russian economy, stocks and exchange rates, but then he pleaded that "Sanctions don't change policy, leaders do."

An Associated Press reporter asked for evidence that the G-7 is supporting the Ukrainian position. Lew insisted that while there was no communique, it was clear from the statements of leaders that the group supports the Ukraine, and no one dissented.

To reporters who remained skeptical, Lew shot back preemptively that they didn't attend the meetings he did. Asked why the nations supporting the Ukraine did not agree upon an aid package as large as $27 billion, Lew responded that the decision is up to each country, adding that the United States has approved $1 billion in loan guarantees pending approval of an IMF package, which he called "the critical core piece."

Also in line with Lagarde's remarks, Lew made the obligatory statement that the United States "has an immense stake" in the IMF and is committed to the implementation of the 2010 quota and governance reforms, noting that he is "deeply disappointed" that enabling legislation was not included in the Ukrainian assistance legislation, but he assured the reporters that the IMF provisions continue to enjoy "strong bipartisan support." In closing, he repeated the point that the top priority is to boost global growth.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Treasury Secretary Jack Lew met with the press on April 10 at George Washington University to discuss the issues addressed at the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.
Lew, IMF, US, Ukraine
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 07:46 AM
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