Group of 7 ministers search for ways to boost less than satisfying growth

DRESDEN, Germany – Economic growth that’s not as strong as everyone would like. Volatile markets. A potential financial blowup in Greece.

Those were three of the most pressing topics hanging over top finance officials from the Group of Seven wealthy democracies at their gathering in Dresden, Germany.

Finance ministers and central banks traded ideas on growth-boosting reforms and discussed financial markets and monetary policy. The talks were marked by concern over growth that is uneven and below long-term averages.

Both the U.S. and Europe are growing. But unemployment remains elevated in the 19-country eurozone, and stock and bond markets have been volatile, although they remain at high levels.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has been pressing his point that European creditor countries and Greek officials need to reach agreement on Greece’s finances. Greece, which is running out of money after two bailouts and six years of economic misery, is seeking the release of more bailout loans so it can avoid a default and possible chaotic departure from the euro currency union.

Greece shadowed the discussion although it was not on the official discussion agenda. Greece isn’t a G-7 member, but three of its creditor countries — Germany, France, and Italy — are. The European Union’s executive commission, another key player, is also represented.

During Thursday’s working session, officials including Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, and host Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble discussed the global economy and markets. They touched on the recent sudden rise in interest yields on bonds. Officials said the general sense was that the move was that yields had fallen to extreme low levels — below zero in some cases.

The meeting, which ends Friday, is a discussion forum that sets up final positions to be taken at a summit of presidents and prime ministers June 7-8 outside Munich.

The G-7 countries are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, and the U.S. The group is an informal forum among leading economies for discussions of economic and foreign policy issues. Germany has the rotating presidency for this year’s meeting.


This story has been corrected to show that the full G-7 summit is June 7-8, not July.