CANNES, France (Reuters) - Following are comments on Thursday by policymakers attending the Group of 20 Summit in Cannes, France, and other euro zone officials, as Europe considered the possibility of Greece leaving the euro.
“At this critical moment, the G20 must work to address the key problems, boost market confidence, defuse risks and meet challenges, and promote global economic growth and financial stability.
“We should speed up the adjustment of our respective economic structures and endeavor to achieve fairly balanced growth of the global economy. To keep asking emerging markets to revalue their currencies and reduce exports will not lead to balanced growth. On the contrary, it would only plunge the global economy into a ‘balanced recession’ and make sustainable growth impossible.
“We should advance the reform of the international monetary system in a steady manner, expand the use of the SDR of the IMF, reform the SDR currency basket, and build an international reserve currency system with stable value, rule-based issuance and manageable supply.”
U.S. TREASURY UNDER SECRETARY FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS LAEL BRAINARD
“Currency has been part of these conversations. I think you will see some language in the action plan on that. I think China is recognizing the role of greater exchange rate flexibility in helping to shift to domestic demand. It is one of the one of the most powerful instruments...that Chinese has at its disposal in the near term.”
“In India, large segments of the financial sector especially banking and insurance is mostly state owned and equity holders and taxpayers are mostly one and the same. In this environment, it is difficult to see why a financial sector tax, which would only raise the cost of capital even further, would be appropriate.”
Asked about how the G20 would react if Greece left the euro zone: “Obviously that would be an interesting contingency and we have had some discussion of that. But my expectation is that cooler heads will prevail and the package will be accepted (by Greece) and we’ll move forward on that.”
“Greece is one of the most economically critical situations a country can find itself in. They are on the brink of bankruptcy ... It’s not a time for divisions, but for national unity.”
“Our aim is if possible to keep everyone (in the euro zone). It’s in our fundamental interest. The markets are very nervous and if a country leaves the euro zone that can give ideas, it’s a taboo that is broken.”
“I still hope that the Greek leadership, be that the current government or the coalition government, will have enough moderation to finish this course and finally receive the funds to resolve the massive crisis that hit the Greek economy.”
“Our (BRICS) position is such that we need to preserve one of the key reserve currencies. Not only the Europeans, but also Russia and China are interested in the existence of the euro.”
“Most of the talks were devoted to the euro zone.”
“The euro is the heart of Europe and Europe is at the heart of French politics. We cannot accept the explosion of the euro, which would be the explosion of Europe. It’s perfectly normal that the two founding countries of the euro come to the front line to defend an achievement of our predecessors.”
“On Greece, I would simply say that the situation is progressing ... I think I can say that the message directed to the whole of the Greek political class by Germany and France yesterday allowed a new awareness which, if it is confirmed, would be welcomed by everyone.
“The euro implies responsibilities...for all those who participate. There is a solidarity among all its members, but minimum common rules have to be respected. That was the message from the chancellor and me yesterday. I am very happy that there are politicians in Greece who understand this message.”
“We have said clearly that we want Greece to stay in the euro, but we cannot wish for this if she does not want it herself.”
Earlier, on talks with Obama on a possible global transaction tax: “I think we have a common analysis on how to have the world of finance contribute to resolving today’s crisis.”
“The most important aspect of our task over the next two days is to resolve the financial crisis here in Europe.
“I agree with President Sarkozy that the EU has made some important steps toward a comprehensive solution, and that would not have happened without Nicolas’ leadership.
“But here at the G20 we’re going to have to flesh out more of the details about how the plan will be fully and decisively implemented. And we also discussed the situation in Greece and how we can work to resolve that situation as well. The United States will continue to be a partner with the Europeans to resolve these challenges.”
“The IMF still has a substantial amount of resources to deal with a range of challenges in Europe and around the world. There are no plans for the United States to provide additional resources ... We can’t speak of what other countries may do.”
ANDREW MACDOUGALL, CHIEF SPOKESMAN FOR CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER STEPHEN HARPER:
“Canada does not support the tax (on financial transactions). We have an aid program for (the least developed) nations and we do not need another tax. This is not supported by Canada.”
“When the world is in crisis, it’s right that you consider boosting the IMF.
“No government has ever lost money by lending money to the IMF. What we wouldn’t support is the IMF investing directly in some euro bailout fund. That wouldn’t be right and we won’t back it.”
WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR MICHAEL FROMAN
“The president made clear that he shares the objectives that Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy have in ensuring that the financial sector contributes an appropriate share to the resolution of crisis.”
“The administration has proposed one approach to that through the financial crisis responsibility fee. The Europeans have another approach. There is broad consensus between the Europeans that the president met with this morning and ourselves about the ability of each to pursue this in their own way, in whatever way they see to be most effective.”
“There’s a boost to confidence from having a well-resourced IMF. It would be a global boost to confidence that the IMF, if needed, has enough resources. It’s not a substitute for the euro zone dealing with its problems.”
“Europe should aid itself, the European Union has everything for that today — the political authority, the financial resources and the backing of many countries.
“Countries with excessive debt burdens should immediately start fiscal consolidation. Countries in the eurozone that are viewed by the markets as safe havens should support demand and thus facilitate the situation for their weaker partners.
“The reward system of shareholders and managers of financial institution should be changed step by step. Otherwise the ‘Occupy Wall street’ slogan will become fashionable in all developed countries. And thus instead of dealing with economic growth, everyone will be busy with what has been created.”
“I think the long-anticipated entry of Russia into the WTO would be a good contribution to our common cause. It is fruitful to both us and our partners.
“We are ready to accept certain compromise ideas that have been recently worked out with the participation of Switzerland”
Asked whether BRICS would avoid exposure to the euro zone crisis until Greek issue is resolved: “Yes, that’s the idea.”
Asked if Greece could leave the euro: “We hope not. We will tell them that it is up to the euro zone members to sort this out.”
“I welcome decisions taken by EU leaders taken at the recent summit but it is very important to implement them as soon as possible to remove the risks we are faced with.
“We still have serious risks and challenges we need to overcome for the future of the global economy, especially in Europe but also elsewhere with high public debt, unemployment and global imbalances. It is important all G20 countries cooperate even more than before.
“The greatest vulnerability threatening the economy is the sustainability of public debt in developed economies.
“It is very important developed countries have concrete and well planned financial policies and that they are implemented. We have seen the importance of that in context of Europe because there have been inconsistent statements made to the public and some of the budgets did not reflect the realities.”
“I expect Europe to steadily implement measures agreed at the European Union summit meeting in order to help stabilize financial systems in Europe.”
“We have exchanged views on the global economic situation at the BRICS leaders meeting, we discussed the European debt crisis. Now we could exchange opinions on bilateral issues.”
“The existing (euro crisis plan) demonstrates the EU’s determination to solve the European debt problem and we hope that the implementation of the plan will address current difficulties in Europe and boost European economic development.
“Europe is the world’s largest economy, and there won’t be global economic recovery without European economic recovery.
“We hope Europe will be fine.”
“BRICS leaders agreed to maintain close contacts between finance ministers and sherpas to work out a common position of BRICS member states on the eurozone.
“BRICS leaders agreed to carry out regular consultations in IMF and other formats.”
“Greece’s position within the euro area is a historic conquest of the country that cannot be put in doubt. This achievement by the Greek people cannot depend on a referendum.”
“If we want to protect the country we must, under conditions of national unity and political seriousness and consensus, implement without any delay the decision of October 26 ... as soon as possible.”
EURO GROUP PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER
On the prospect of a Greek exit from euro zone, to Germany’s ZDF television: “We are working on the subject of how to ensure there is not a disaster for the people in Germany, Luxembourg, the euro zone. We are absolutely prepared for the situation. We are absolutely prepared for the situation which I describe and which I want to be avoided.
“Everything must be done to try to make sure one member of the 17-member group does not fade away but if this were the wish of the Greeks — and I think that would be wrong — then we cannot force the Greeks toward their fortune.
“This is not my favored scenario. I would like Greece to stay on board but Greece must fulfill its obligations.”
Reporting by Laura MacInnis, Alister Bull, Tetsushi Kajimoto, Gui Qing Koh, Luke Baker, Daniel Flynn, Alexei Anishchuk and Catherine Bremer; Editing by Ruth Pitchford