LONDON (Reuters) - Finance ministers and central bankers from the G20 group of leading industrialised nations meet in Germany next week for the first time since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States.
In light of recent comments from the White House about the dollar, global financial imbalances and world trade, it could be one of the most crucial gatherings in the four-decade history of G5, G7 and G20 meetings.
Washington has accused Germany, Japan and China of exploiting exchange rate weakness for competitive advantage over the United States. And with Trump looking to make good on the protectionist, isolationist and “America First” platform he was elected on, G20 officials may struggle to present a united front on March 17-18 in Baden-Baden.
Below is a timeline tracing the history of cooperation between G7 and latterly G20 countries on world trade and financial conventions - especially in relation to foreign exchange - including direct, coordinated FX market intervention.
March-October 2011 - G7 nations jointly intervene in March to stem yen strength when the currency spikes against the dollar after a massive earthquake in Japan. This is G7’s last coordinated intervention in FX markets. Tokyo then acts alone again in August and October.
September 2010 - Japan intervenes for the first time in six years after the U.S. dollar hits a 15-year-low of 82.87 yen. Tokyo acts alone, but its move will have been tacitly approved at G7 level.
March 2009 - G20 finance officials meet in Horsham, England, ahead of the leaders summit in London a few weeks later. With the world economy and financial system still reeling from the Lehman fallout, participants agree to take coordinated action to stimulate demand and employment. They also pledge to fight against all forms of protectionism. It is perhaps G20’s high water mark - the low for world stock markets turns out to be in March, and the global economy begins to recover.
November 2008 - The first G20 leaders summit takes place in Washington under the banner “Financial Markets and the World Economy”.
September 2008 - As the world economy and financial system plunges into crisis following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, G7 pledges to “protect the integrity of the international financial system and facilitate liquid, smooth functioning markets”. It stands ready “to take whatever actions may be necessary, individually and collectively, to ensure the stability of the international financial system.”
September 2003 - In the midst of concerted intervention from Japan, and China refusing to loosen the yuan’s peg to the dollar, G7 issues a strongly worded communique on FX in Dubai. It says “more flexibility in exchange rates is desirable for major countries or economic areas to promote smooth and widespread adjustments in the international financial system, based on market mechanisms.”
May 2002-March 2004 - The Bank of Japan intervenes regularly and in record amounts to curb the yen’s rise, mostly alone but also on occasion with the ECB and Fed.
September 2001 - The BOJ on its own and with ECB, euro zone central banks and New York Fed, intervenes to sell yen for dollars, worrying about an export-crippling rise in the value of the yen following the 9/11 attacks.
September-November 2000 - Central banks in Europe, Japan and the United States, acting together for the first time since 1995, intervene to drive the euro higher after the currency hits an all-time low below $0.8225, a loss of nearly 30 percent of its value since its January 1999 launch.
September 1999 - G20 finance ministers and central bankers meet for the first time under the banner of G20, “a group of countries representing both developed and emerging economies from every region of the globe (whose) purpose is to ensure broader participation in discussions on international financial affairs among countries whose size or strategic importance gives them a particularly crucial role in the global economy.”
January 1999-April 2000 - Concerned that the strong yen will choke off a fragile economic recovery, Japan intervenes in FX markets to tame its strength. The BOJ sells yen at least 18 times in this period, including once via the Fed and once via the ECB.
April-June 1998 - With the yen weakening, the BOJ intervenes to support its currency. As the yen crumples below 144 to the dollar, U.S. authorities join the BOJ in June, spending $833 million buying yen.
April 1994-August 1995 - Dollar sinks to a record low against the German mark and a post-World-War Two low against the yen. From April 1994, the United States intervenes repeatedly, often with Japanese and European central banks, to prop up the greenback.
1991-1992 - U.S. and European central banks intervene repeatedly after the Gulf War tips the U.S. economy into recession. Washington intervenes on both sides of the market, buying and selling dollars.
1988-1990 - The dollar is back on the march again, and the United States intervenes after G7 statements on importance of maintaining exchange rate stability.
Feb. 22, 1987 - G7 meet in Paris to halt a steep decline in the dollar’s value in what becomes known as the “Louvre Accord”. This comes only 17 months after the “Plaza Accord” that successfully brought an end to the dollar’s surge in the early 1980s. Louvre does not trigger a rebound, but does herald several years of general stability, certainly relative to the inflation-busting and growth-fired period under then-president Ronald Reagan and Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker.
September 1985 - The G5 (Italy and Canada don’t take part) meet in New York’s Plaza Hotel to discuss the dollar’s 80 percent surge under Reagan and Volcker. The rare agreement to bring the dollar down will become known as the “Plaza Accord”. It works too - the dollar, already on the slide, falls 40 percent over the next year and a half.
1976 - Canada joins, making it the G7.
1975 - Italy joins, making it the G6. Finance ministers and central bank governors from these countries meet just outside Paris to discuss “current world issues in a frank and informal manner”.
1974 - Senior finance officials from the United States, United Kingdom, France, West Germany and Japan meet informally for the first time under the guise of the “Group of Five”, or G5.
Compiled by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Pritha Sarkar