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Europe listens to Lew but may not act

Tuesday, April 09, 2013 - 02:19

April 9 - The new U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew stopped off in Germany on his first official euro zone tour, repeating his comments that Europe should relax its austerity measures and focus on growth. Joanna Partridge asks how much influence he has and if anyone is listening.

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Economic advice from an ally. U.S Treasury Secretary Jack Lew held his first meeting with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble during his trip to Europe. Lew's already met his French counterpart and EU leaders to discuss the euro zone's ongoing debt crisis and its flagging economy - and how that's affecting the US recovery. SOUNDBITE: Jack Lew, U.S. Treasury Secretary, saying (English): "We have an immense stake in a strong and prosperous Europe. With that in mind, Minister Schaeuble and I discussed our common interest in strengthening global growth, advancing the agenda for international regulatory reform and creating additional opportunities for increased trade, investment and job creation. We also discussed Europe's plans to move forward on a banking union which is critical to ensuring the long-term stability of the euro area." Lew's been calling on European officials to relax their austerity measures and focus on growth. But is anyone listening? Tobias Blattner from Daiwa Capital Markets believes the U.S's influence has diminished recently - as the Americans and the Europeans pursue different deficit reduction plans. SOUNDBITE: Tobias Blattner from Daiwa Capital Markets, saying (English): "The German government very much believes, is convinced that the way of cutting down the deficits in a very fast manner is actually the best answer to the current crisis, while the U.S., particularly I think from both a fiscal and a monetary side that maybe doing it in a growth-friendly and slower way is the best answer. So I think there are some discrepancies in the views." Alpesh Patel from Praefinium Partners thinks a change of tack over austerity could destabilise markets. SOUNDBITE: Alpesh Patel, Founding Partner, Praefinium Partners, saying (English): "If it does increase debt significantly, to increase spending and stimulate growth, the danger there becomes that those bond yields start spiking up, it becomes that the debt levels become unserviceable, so not only does the debt increase, but the servicing costs increase and that double whammy is what can derail Europe, so at the moment I think it's just got to keep doing what it's doing." Amid protests and painful cuts, European leaders show few signs of changing their course. And if the recent re-emergence of the euro zone crisis in Cyprus didn't convince them - they're unlikely to heed diplomatic words.

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Europe listens to Lew but may not act

Tuesday, April 09, 2013 - 02:19