World leaders grappling with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s pledged on Friday to deliver a concrete plan to ward off recession and prevent future meltdowns.
But prospects for joint action on growth, let alone a major overhaul of the world financial system, looked slim with host President George W. Bush resisting bold moves before leaving office in two months and President-elect Barack Obama absent.
French officials said the Group of 20 advanced and developing economies were close to agreement on a final declaration at the summit which wraps up on Saturday. European officials said the leaders pledged to finalise a first series of measures to reform financial regulations by March 31.
“We share a determination to fix the problems that led to this turmoil,” Bush said earlier at a White House dinner for the leaders.
Emerging market countries warned time is running out to stem the economic damage from credit market turmoil that began about 17 months ago.
“If we don’t take quick action we run the risk of falling into a depression,” said Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega, adding both regulatory reform and concerted government spending were needed.
Montek Singh Ahluwalia, a top Indian economic policy-maker, piled on the pressure for developed countries. “If we are facing the most serious crisis in the world economy since the Great Depression then we need to take a lot of possibly unorthodox and special steps,” he said.
The euro zone, the world’s second largest economic block, tumbled into recession in the third quarter. The United States and Britain are fast headed there, which would risk pulling the world into its deepest slump in many decades.
Asian economies heavily dependent on exports to the West are particularly vulnerable. China, South Korea and Japan said they were considering steps including currency swaps, which would strengthen their regional defenses against the global financial upheaval.