Fears of another economic recession, turmoil in financial markets and Europe's debt crisis are on the agenda as top economic and political officials from around the world gather here in Washington at the end of the week. Members of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank say they hope to make progress on these tough issues. But as VOA's Jim Randle reports, expectations are modest.
The International Monetary Fund says the global economy faces its biggest risk since the 2008 financial crisis.
That is why the IMF's Reza Moghadam says he is trying to work out a strategy to bolster economic growth.
"The annual meetings are taking place at a critical time in the global economy. There is widespread concern that the global economic recovery is losing momentum," Moghadam said.
The warning echoes an IMF economic assessment published ahead of this week's gathering of officials from the 187 economies who make up the IMF, as well as officials with the World Bank.
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The IMF says international financial troubles are moving into a new and more political phase, with leaders in advanced countries often at odds over how to stabilize their economies.
The IMF's José Viñals watches monetary and capital markets.
"Weak politics. There has been a perception that politicians across both sides of the Atlantic [Ocean] may not have the willingness or the capacity to do whatever is needed to solve current problems," Vinals said.
The IMF report discusses investor worries about the political process in the United States that threatened to push Washington toward financial default earlier this year. It also describes differences among European countries that have tangled efforts to cope with huge government debts.
Analyst Domenico Lombardi of the Brookings Institution here in Washington has experience at the IMF and the World Bank. He says indecision by politicians in many nations makes progress on these issues very unlikely.
"I think we should contain our expectations. These meetings will be relatively important because they will focus the international policymaking community on important threats to the stability of the global economy. But on the other hand, we should not expect a sensational announcement," he said.
Although expectations for progress might be modest, the IMF is urging a program of strong action, including reforms to the global financial system that reduce the risk that the collapse of very large firms could damage the global financial system.
The IMF wants advanced economies like the United States to cut government deficits and Europe to help banks amass bigger reserves to cope with economic troubles.
Emerging economies have weathered the economic downturn better than developed nations, but the IMF says they need to build solid financial systems.