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G-20 finance officials focus on US budget talks

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso (right) with US Secretary of Treasury Jacob Lew.SHAWN THEW/EPA

WASHINGTON — World finance officials said Friday the United States needs to take urgent action to address its budget problems that are creating economic uncertainties for the global economy.

Finance ministers and central bank leaders for the Group of 20 major economies wrapped up two days of discussions in Washington with a joint statement expressing concern about the ongoing budget stalemate between Congress and the Obama administration.

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told reporters that issues of the partial government shutdown and the need to raise the US borrowing limit before Thursday were addressed by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.

Siluanov said all the G-20 participants are hoping for a speedy resolution. He noted that about 45 percent of Russian’s foreign exchange reserves are invested in US Treasury securities. America will run out of borrowing authority for new debt on Thursday.


Lew has warned that with only $30 billion expected cash on hand at that time, the country will soon not have the ability to meet all of its bills, including paying interest on the $16.7 trillion federal debt. That would trigger an unprecedented default.

Underscoring the urgency of the situation, Lew left the G-20 discussions before they had wrapped up Friday to get to the White House for a meeting with President Obama and Senate Republicans.

There have been various proposals in recent days to resolve the impasse and get at least a short-term increase in the borrowing limit approved before next week’s deadline.

Obama has insisted he will not negotiate with Republicans over spending issues until the government is reopened and the borrowing limit is raised.

Siluanov said the G-20 officials did not discuss contingency plans if the US borrowing ceiling is not increased by the Thursday deadline.

He had told reporters the previous evening that US officials had given assurances that the debt ceiling impasse would be resolved before the deadline.