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BRICS Considering Giving Financial Help to Developed Economies

China's Central Bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan at the BRICS finance ministers news conference at IMF headquarters in Washington, Sept. 22, 2011na)
China's Central Bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan at the BRICS finance ministers news conference at IMF headquarters in Washington, Sept. 22, 2011na)
William Ide

Members of the global economic grouping known as BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - say they are considering providing funds through the International Monetary Fund or other financial institutions to help get growth in developed countries back on track.  The BRICS countries on Thursday called for decisive action, but did not offer immediate and specific financial support.

For more than a week, speculation has been building about what the BRICS countries could do to help Europe stem its sovereign debt crisis.  The possibility that emerging economies like China and Brazil -- with large foreign currency reserves -- could come to the euro zone's rescue has stirred much speculation among analysts over what these countries might do to help the global economy.

With more than $4 trillion in cash reserves, most of that owned by China, there has been talk of the BRICS economies investing in euro zone sovereign bonds.

Following a gathering of central bankers and finance ministers on Thursday, the BRICS countries issued a statement in which they seemed willing to act, although not on their own, and not just yet.

Zhou Xiaochuan is the Governor of the People's Bank of China.

"[The] BRICS communique also expressed that we need to jointly consider a kind of support for these purposes [aiding the global economy]," he said. "But probably this needs a wider range of discussion, maybe G-7 [Group of Seven] G-20 [Group of 20] or [during] other occasions."

Chinese officials say Beijing will continue to give marginal support to Europe through its ongoing investments there and efforts to diversify its holdings in foreign currency reserves.

Nearly a third of China's foreign currency reserves are in euros.  China says it wants to grow that investment and reduce its holdings in dollars.

In 2008, the Group of 20 leading industrialized and developing economies worked to help ease the global financial crisis.  BRICS leaders say they are looking for a similar effort to emerge in the coming weeks.  G-20 finance leaders will meet here in Washington this week during the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank, and the European debt crisis is expected to be a major topic of discussion.  G-20 leaders are also scheduled to next month in Paris.

The People's Bank of China's Zhou Xiaochuan says that as emerging countries look to help advanced economies, they need to ensure that their own economic growth continues.  One way of doing that, he says, is by ensuring that BRICS countries move away from reliance on exports for economic growth.

"We need to do a good policy making job in our own countries [in] each BRICS country," he said. "Actually, BRICS countries represent quite a big share of the global economy.  In today's crisis period, the internal demand of each country, I think, is important."

According to the International Monetary Fund, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will account for 60 percent of the world's global economic growth by 2014.

In their communique, the BRICS nations welcomed steps taken by the United States and the European Union to address financial tensions.  They said it is critical for advanced economies to adopt responsible economic and financial policies to promote growth, create jobs and reduce trade imbalances.

The BRICS states also stressed that as they do more to contribute to the global economy, they should have more of a say in what global financial institutions do.  In their statement, they voiced concern over the slow pace of quota and governance reforms that the IMF approved last year.

In 2010, the 187 member nations of the IMF agreed to shift more voting rights to emerging economies like China, giving them a bigger say in its decision making process.

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