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Bundesbank says 'low-flation' high on agenda at IMF meeting

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

By Eva Taylor and Paul Carrel

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Persistently low inflation in the euro zone and the resulting risks for the global economy will feature high on the agenda of the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the G20, Germany's Bundesbank said on Tuesday.

The European Central Bank has resisted IMF calls to ease monetary policy further to combat the risk of so-called "low-flation", which the IMF fears could drag on global growth in the short term, along with geopolitical tensions in places like Ukraine, and market volatility.

The Bundesbank, representing the euro zone's largest economy on the ECB's Governing Council, acknowledged the IMF's policy suggestions and stressed that monetary policy in the euro zone was already very accommodative.

"The ECB has the necessary tools to act, should it become apparent that inflation remains low for too long," Bundesbank board member Andreas Dombret said, adding that the resulting risks should also be assessed.

The debate at the spring meetings would be about low inflation rather than deflation, for which the Bundesbank sees very limited risks.

Economic indicators pointed to continued moderate growth in the euro zone, Dombret said, adding that the German economy, the bloc's largest, remained robust, mainly thanks to favorable labor market developments and noticeable real income growth.

The Bundesbank expects the global economy to grow moderately in 2014 and at a faster pace than last year, but sees downside risks from geopolitical tensions and finance conditions in some emerging markets.

The German central bank welcomed Ukraine's willingness to implement substantial economic and financial reforms, which it said were key conditions for a stabilization of the country and for support from the IMF.

QUOTA REFORM

More than five years after the financial crisis, the discussion at the meeting of the G20 economic club will now focus on the implementation of previously agreed rules.

Making banks more resistant to future financial crises and solving the problem of lenders that have become so big that governments cannot afford to let them go under without posing a risk to financial stability are among the issues.

The Bundesbank welcomed the work done by the G20 to improve long term investments, saying that the focus on infrastructure and improved financing conditions for small- and medium sized companies supported sustained and balanced growth.

The Bundesbank said it would constructively take part in the discussion about the delayed reform of the IMF's voting shares, which it said would be necessary "for reasons legitimacy and credibility of the Fund".

U.S. lawmakers have set back historic reforms that would give developing countries a greater say at the IMF.

The reform of the voting shares, known as quotas, cannot proceed without the United States, which holds the only controlling share of IMF votes. The quotas determine how much each country contributes to the IMF and how much it may borrow.

The Bundesbank, however, said that the delayed reforms had so far no significant impact on the Fund's resources, which would only rise by net $20 billion as a result to almost $1.05 trillion.

Even without bilateral credit lines, which were agreed in 2012 on a temporary basis, the Fund's resources of around $700 billion would be "fully sufficient to fulfill the Fund's tasks within its mandate", the Bundesbank said.

(Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/140408/bundesbank-says-low-flation-high-agenda-at-imf-meeting