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Finance Ministers Report to the Heads of State and Government
on International Monetary Stability

Lyon, France, 28 June 1996

The dramatic increase in trade and capital flows in the world has deepened economic and financial integration among all countries, and it creates a more complex financial environment, with a greater diversity of capital flows, creditors and borrowers. This process of globalisation creates new opportunities but also challenges for our countries and the international community, especially with regard to our international monetary and financial system.

In this context, the Heads of State and Government concluded at the Halifax summit that : "Close consultation and effective cooperation on macroeconomic policies among the G7 are important elements in promoting sustained non-inflationary growth avoiding the emergence of large external imbalances, and promoting greater exchange market stability", that "we have a shared interest in ensuring the international community remains able to manage the risks inherent in the growth of private capital flows, the increased integration of domestic capital markets, and the accelerating pace of financial innovation" and that "closer international cooperation in the regulation and supervision of financial institutions and markets is essential to safeguard the financial system and prevent an erosion of prudential standards."

In our discussions in Halifax last year we concluded, more specifically, that:

These conclusions remain valid today.

Our overriding objective is to promote sustained non-inflationary growth. In this context, the G7 can best promote greater stability in exchange markets through the pursuit of appropriate macroeconomic policies along with close cooperation in the exchange markets where appropriate.

For the past two decades, the international monetary system has been based on a flexible exchange rate system among major currencies. There are circumstances when it is appropriate to allow exchange rates among major currencies to fluctuate rather than to adjust monetary and fiscal policies in a manner inconsistent with the needs of the economy.

Experience since 1973 suggests that major exchange rate adjustments have been caused by clearly identifiable changes or distortions in the underlying economic fundamentals or in macroeconomic policies. Efforts to preserve an exchange rate that is inconsistent with underlying fundamentals are likely to introduce distortions to and constraints on central instruments of economic management. At the same time, financial authorities cannot be indifferent to exchange rate fluctuations that do not appear justified on the basis of macro-economic policies or fundamentals and as a consequence could adversely affect output or prices. There are circumstances where close cooperation in exchange markets can reinforce sound economic policies and enhance stability in exchange markets.

The G7 has an important responsibility in promoting an effective and stable monetary system by advancing policies that will strengthen our capacity to manage risk and prevent crises and improve our ability to respond to such events when they occur. Towards this objective, we have adopted a number of initiatives over the past several years and improvements were initiated at Halifax. This paper reviews the main initiatives, and proposes, where appropriate, further improvements.

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More effective macro-economic surveillance in the G7 meetings

It is important to pursue sound domestic economic policies aimed at achieving sustained non-inflationary growth and at avoiding the emergence of excessive external imbalances. Such policies are also a necessary condition for more exchange rate stability and for avoiding - or reducing - exchange rate misalignment. The dramatic deepening in economic integration increases the need for sound economic policies but also the potential gains from cooperation on macro-economic policies. The G7 surveillance process provides a framework for identifying and formulating appropriate responses to risks for our economies and for the stability of the international financial and monetary system.

Surveillance has been improved by the G7 in the past years, and some encouraging results have been reached in this informal framework:

We have adopted a number of steps to improve the effectiveness of the G7 surveillance process. Building on these improvements, we would support the following additional steps:

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Continuing G7 close cooperation in exchange markets

Exchange rate misalignments can heighten uncertainty in the global economy and can be detrimental to growth and trade. When exchange rates appear to move out of line with underlying fundamentals, close monitoring is necessary and coordinated responses may be required.

The "orderly reversal" in key exchange rates since April 1995 is a positive and promising development. Several factors lie behind it. Most important were changes in economic policies and fundamentals, but the signals given to the markets by the G7 in 1995, through communiqués and - under appropriate circumstances - concerted intervention, were helpful in providing impetus to bringing exchange rates better in line with fundamental trends.

We should continue our close cooperation in exchange markets on this foundation, taking into account the fact that:

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Better prudential safeguards in international financial markets

The globalisation of financial markets and the substantial increase in cross-border capital flows have created a more complex financial environment. Comprehensive and effective financial regulation, market-reinforced prudential supervision and enhanced international cooperation among regulators are among the keystones for maintaining stability of the international financial and monetary system.

Industrial countries have been cooperating in the development of prudential frameworks for many years. The BIS/Basle Committees have taken important steps to develop international standards for prudential supervision of banks and to strengthen payments and settlements systems which link international markets. IOSCO has undertaken similar work for prudential regulation of securities firms and markets. In recent years, banking and securities regulators have increased their contacts at the international level to address supervisory concerns that cut across markets.

We recognise the substantial recent and ongoing cooperative work between the Basle and IOSCO Committees on derivatives to promote improved risk management, a common reporting framework and improved disclosure practices.

We welcome the publication in December 1995 of the Basle Committee capital adequacy standards for bank's exposure to market risk, which will be a very useful complement to existing prudential ratios.

Nevertheless, the changes in the structure of global finance and the emergence of new participants and markets require the supervisory response, including international cooperation, to evolve continually. We welcome the Basle and IOSCO Committees' reports on prudential regulation and supervisory cooperation. These reports should pave the way for continuing progress on current initiatives and expanding efforts in the following directions:

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Strengthening of our collective ability to respond to financial crises

The increased integration of global capital markets, the change in magnitude and composition of capital flows, and the increase in the diversity and number of creditors and borrowers present new opportunities and challenges to the financial system. At Halifax, Heads proposed a range of initiatives to strengthen the global financial system, with particular attention to the IMF's role. We strongly welcome their implementation:

Source: Lyon G7 Summit, June 28, 1996; Canada, Departent of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

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