Australia’s Morrison calls for urgent G-20 finance meeting as covid-19 wreaks havoc on economy



Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Sunday for an urgent meeting of finance chiefs from the world’s top industrial and emerging nations amid market turmoil spurred by the coronavirus outbreak.

Detailing his talks with world leaders, Morrison said he supported a proposal by India Prime Minister Narendra Modi to organize a link-up between G-20 leaders. He also held a call with U.K. counterpart Boris Johnson and both agreed that finance chiefs need to meet.

“The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) and I agreed last night that an even more urgent meeting that would be needed would be a further meeting of the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

Citing market volatility, Morrison said the G-20 should coordinate actions similar to ones rolled out during the global financial crisis.

“We’ve seen some highly volatile, quite disruptive activity on our financial markets,” Morrison said. “We want to be assured through our cooperation — as occurred through the GFC among that G-20 group — that we can make sure that there is no further damage or undermining of financial markets and the central bank governors and financial ministers are in best place to do that.”

G7 leaders have already signaled they would hold a video conference on the coronavirus early next week. Canada’s Justin Trudeau said the members agreed to coordinate their response.

The market panic comes amid daily signs the global economy is powering down as countries enforce new restrictions on travel and movement.

A rush by central banks and governments to slash interest rates and unleash more than $130 billion in fiscal stimulus hasn’t been enough to stop the rout.

Trading volatility spiked to levels not seen since the financial crisis in 2008 as the S&P 500 Index’s historic bull run came to an end — the gauge fell the most since 1987 before retracing some of those losses.

Signs of illiquidity also emerged across global credit markets and the $17 trillion U.S. government-bond market, while the dollar staged its biggest jump in 12 years.

The G-20 released an emergency statement on March 7 that echoed one released by the Group of Seven nations, which ultimately disappointed investors.

“This has been a very fast-moving event,” Morrison said.


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