The look ahead: Europe expected to dominate IMF and World Bank talks

World financial leaders will be in Washington next week. But they’ll have Europe on their minds.

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank’s annual spring meetings, which start April 20th, are expected to centre on the sovereign debt crisis in the euro zone.

The IMF has been offering financial assistance to Greece, Portugal and Ireland, and has been trying to raise $500 billion in additional lending resources. But the organisation has received a cold shoulder from some member nations who think Europe should do more to bolster its defences.

The meetings will come weeks after euro-zone leaders boosted emergency funds to € 800 billion (approximately $1 trillion) – a figure some think should be higher still.

“It is very important for the euro area to be seen to contribute adequate resources to solve its sovereign debt crisis,” Charles Dallara, managing director of the Institute of International Finance, wrote Monday in an open letter to IMF committee chairmen. “A significant expansion of the euro area financial firewall is important to facilitate the desired increase in IMF lending resources. A timely and transparent deployment of the expanded IMF resources would help safeguard global financial stability.”

CGMA Global Economic Forecast webcast

The global economy will also be the talk of the CGMA Global Economic Forecast audio webcast on April 18th. The webcast, which runs from 11 a.m. to noon EDT, will discuss the findings of the new quarterly survey of AICPA and CIMA members.

Chartered Global Management Accountants have become more confident about current economic conditions. However, optimism about the global economy as a whole was still at low levels and the outlook for business prospects varies by region.

The survey of more than 600 business leaders who carry the CGMA designation showed that executives in the US and emerging markets were most upbeat. Pessimism was most prevalent in Europe and the UK.  Respondents from Asia lost a little confidence as economic growth in China and India began to slow in the first quarter. But participants in Asia still were more confident than those in Europe.

CGMA designation holders can earn one free CPD credit and learn about worldwide economic trends by participating in the webcast. Participation in the webcast is free for those not seeking CPD. The webcast will feature leading CGMA executives in a dialogue with Alasdair Ross, global product director and editor of the Economist Intelligence Unit Risk Briefing. Victor Smart, CIMA director of profile and communications, will moderate the webcast.

CGMA designation holders must be logged in to receive their discount for CPD credit, which is available for $55 for AICPA members and $68.75 for non-members.

To sign up for the webcast, click here.

UK labour data due out

The labour market report that the UK’s Office for National Statistics releases April 18th will provide clues whether market conditions in the UK remained weak in March.

The International Labour Organization unemployment rate held steady at 8.4% in January and February. The number of unemployed was up a modest 28,000, the smallest gain since May 2011. 

But the wages figures clearly demonstrated the underlying weakness of the UK labour market. Annual average earnings growth dropped from 1.9% in the three months to December to 1.4% in the three months to January. That was the slowest pace since July 2010.

Single-month earnings were up only 0.7% year-over-year after a 1.7% increase in December.

FASB and IASB to meet in London

Discussions on insurance contracts and financial instruments lead the agenda for four days of joint meetings of the US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), which will take place Monday through April 19th in London.

Webcasts of each day’s discussions and a full agenda are available through the IFRS website. Topics of decision-making sessions on insurance contracts include reinsurance, and contract modifications and riders.

The financial instruments topics will include impairment, and classification and measurement. FASB and the IASB also will begin their redeliberations on the investment entities project, discussing summaries of the feedback received on their exposure drafts. No decisions will be reached on investment entities at this meeting.

FASB and the IASB will also jointly hold public roundtable meetings on their ED on revenue recognition from 4 to 7 a.m. EDT and 8 to 11 a.m. EDT on April 20th in London.

The meetings will be available by audio webcast through the IFRS website. The boards will discuss the proposed, revised Accounting Standards Update (ASU) known under FASB’s codification as Revenue Recognition (Topic 605): Revenue from Contracts with Customers. The IASB calls the proposal Revenue From Contracts with Customers.

Under the core principle of the proposed standard, entities would recognise revenue to depict the transfer of promised goods or services to customers in an amount reflecting the consideration to which the entity expects to be entitled in exchange for those goods or services.

The boards are holding the roundtable meetings to facilitate constructive dialogue with a wide variety of stakeholders.