The world's leading economies kept the pressure firmly on Europe to sort out its debt crisis on Saturday with the sense of urgency to be reflected in a communique at the end of a G-20 finance chiefs' meeting.
The make-or-break moment in the two-year-old crisis that has spread far beyond starting point Greece could come at a summit of European Union leaders on Oct. 23. Germany and France have promised to set out a plan to halt the contagion, while protecting Europe's banks and the wider world economy.
A draft communique, which must still be OK'd by G-20 finance ministers and central bankers looks forward to the EU summit taking appropriate decisions, according to a European G-20 source -- unusually direct language for G-20 diplomats.
Eurozone policymakers are trying to put flesh on the bones of a crisis-resolution plan in time for the summit. It will involve plans to recapitalize banks, make Greek's debt mountain more sustainable, and ramp up the firepower of the bloc's European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).
Efforts by some countries to increase the International Monetary Fund's ammunition to fight the crisis ran into resistance from the United States and others, burying the idea for now and putting the onus firmly back on Europe.
One G-20 source said emerging- market policymakers backed injecting some $350 billion into the IMF. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his Canadian counterpart poured cold water on the idea. The IMF's dominant shareholders -- including the United States, Japan, Germany, and China -- are content the fund's $380 billion worth of resources is enough.
They [the IMF] have very substantial resources that are uncommitted, Geithner said.
On Friday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble agreed the Eurozone debt crisis was for Europe to solve, and expressed confidence EU leaders would produce a plan at the Oct. 23 summit that would be convincing for financial markets.
The United States is among countries keen to keep pressure on the Europeans to act more decisively to end the crisis that began in Greece, but has since spread to Ireland and Portugal and is lapping at Spain and Italy.
The first priority here is for Europeans to put their own house in order, Australian finance minister Wayne Swan said, though his office in Canberra later released a transcript of a CNN interview in which he added that the G-20 should be willing to support extra IMF resourcing if required.
Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty also said the G-20 should keep up pressure on the Eurozone on its arduous journey toward a solution and not focus on IMF resources.
If minds needed concentrating further, Standard and Poor's cut Spain's long-term credit rating on Friday, citing the country's high unemployment, tightening credit, and high private-sector debt, highlighting the risk of a much larger economy than Greece coming under threat.
Fears about the damage a default by Greece -- and possibly others -- could inflict on the financial system have driven a confidence-sapping bout of market volatility since late July, with global stocks falling 17 percent from their 2011 high in May. But they have picked up since the leaders of France and Germany set themselves an end-of-October deadline for action.
A World Divided
Unlike in 2009 when the G-20, which produces 85 percent of global output, launched coordinated stimulus to pull the world out of crisis, the rest of the world is chafing at Europe's slow response while Washington and Beijing are sparring over the yuan currency.
The Franco-German crisis plan is likely to ask banks to accept bigger losses on their Greek debt than the 21 percent spelled out in a July plan for a second bailout of Athens, which now looks insufficient.
Yet to be decided is whether that can be achieved with the voluntary participation of the banks.
It should also lay out a system for recapitalizing banks and plans to leverage the Eurozone's 440 billion euros in the EFSF to give it more punch.
Schaeuble said European banks should be helped, if necessary, with state means to strengthen their capital.
Although the EFSF has the resources to cope with bailouts for Greece, Portugal, and Ireland, it would be overwhelmed by the need to rescue a bigger economy such as Italy or Spain.
The most effective method would be to turn the EFSF into a bank so it could draw on European Central Bank resources. Both Germany and the ECB are opposed to that, so attention has turned to the idea of making the fund more like an insurer.
For example, if the EFSF covered the first 20 percent of losses a bank could suffer in case of a default -- it could multiply its firepower fivefold to over 2 trillion euros.
No Change in Forex Language
A G-20 delegation source said the final communique would contain language on exchange rates that is no harsher than at their last meeting in Washington.
The source also said China had given no indication it was prepared to change pace on greater flexibility of its yuan currency.
Any real progress on bigger goals such as setting parameters to measure global imbalances and reining in speculative capital flows is unlikely to come before a Nov. 3-4 summit in Cannes, where France passes the G-20 baton to Mexico.
A French finance ministry source said that for the Cannes meeting, France hoped to have two or three measures agreed for countries showing imbalances: consolidation measures for those with high deficits, and stimulus measures for those with surpluses.
A separate G-20 source said after preparatory talks late on Thursday that China would commit to boost its consumption through a five-year plan, via households and companies as well as infrastructure.
A communique and round of closing news conferences are expected around 1500 GMT.
(Additional reporting by Daniel Flynn, Francesca Landini, Randall Palmer, David Milliken, Kevin Yao and Mark Bendeich in SYDNEY; Writing by Janet McBride/Mike Peacock)