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April 16, 2011

G-20 nations reach agreement on imbalances

WASHINGTON — The world's major nations have put together a new monitoring process that they hope will halt the types of destabilizing economic imbalances that contributed to the worst global downturn since World War II.

Finance officials in the United States and other members of the Group of 20 major economies said the new program will closely follow key measurements of economic health such as government budget and trade deficits, personal savings levels and investment flows between nations.

The hope is that the monitoring process will highlight problems before they become so big that they pose a threat to global growth. But the deal announced Friday by the G-20 left many questions unanswered about just how effective the new procedures will be.

Global financial reform will continue on Saturday to be the focus of meetings of the policy-setting committees of the 187-nation International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke were representing the United States at the talks.

Geithner also had a round of one-on-one meetings scheduled Saturday with finance officials from Portugal and Greece, two nations facing serious debt troubles, and officials from the European Union and Germany who have been involved in the efforts to deal with Europe's debt problems.

Geithner was also scheduled to meet with Egyptian Finance Minister Samir Radwan for talks likely to focus on the types of financial support that Egypt needs during its governmental transition.

After the day-long G-20 talks ended, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde told reporters Friday that the monitoring agreement was a significant achievement in efforts to restore confidence and prevent future financial crises.

"We have made huge progress in relation to the framework for growth," she said. "This is a major step in the right direction."

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