G-20 Leaders Try to Balance Debt, Stimulus

Statement calls for reduction in debt-to-GDP ratio

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Preoccupied with high debt balances, leaders of the G-20 nations meeting in Toronto said Sunday, June 27, that they would work to reduce government deficits by half by the year 2013. Holding the middle ground between U.S. President Obama's advocacy for stimulus and German calls for increased taxes and stringent spending control measures, the attendees built flexibility into the actions they proposed even as they came down more on the side of fiscal reduction.

Despite warnings by President Obama that cutting off stimulus funds prematurely might prevent a return to world prosperity, the leaders looked at raising taxes and lowering spending.

The statement released late on June 27 calls only for the most industrialized nations to undertake steps to reduce their governments' debt-to-GDP ratio. It also did not bless the proposed bank tax that many European governments and the U.S. say should pay for future bailouts. The tax was opposed by Australia, Canada, and Japan, since their banks were not among those that collapsed. It did caution against failing to ensure that taxpayers were not left to pay the price for bank failures.

The G-20 summit was marked by some 30,000 protesters made up of social advocates and members of labor unions; also present were anarchists, whose demonstrations turned violent. Security at the meeting was being provided by some 19,000 police officers from across Canada; many Canadians have expressed concern over the nearly $1 billion pricetag for security.

The final communiqu? of the summit is available at the official G-20 site.

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