Flaherty sounds economic alarm

Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty is seen waiting between doors before speaking to the media at a local restaurant n Ottawa Tuesday, October 4, 2011.

Credits: Andre Forget /QMI AGENCY


OTTAWA -- While Europe teeters on the brink of a recession and its debt crisis drags on, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty continues to push European leaders to bring the situation under control quickly.

"Our chief enemies now are uncertainty and delay," Flaherty said Wednesday in a speech to the Canada-U.S. Securities Markets Summit in New York.

Flaherty wants European leaders to beef up their emergency fund to rescue any banks that would go belly-up if Greece defaults. He says that would ease a lot of the economic concern around the world.

His speech comes amid new signs Europe is heading for a major economic downturn.

"We can't rule out the possibility of a recession in coming quarters," said Jeavon Lolay, head of global research at Lloyds Banking Group. "Combined with the global slowdown you have the main growth engine of the euro zone economy, Germany, stuttering."

Meantime, the Greek government has cut civil servants' pay, hiked taxes, chopped pension payments and laid off thousands of workers.

But with a Greek recession heading into a fourth year, Athens is finding it more difficult to avoid a debt default, which could add a banking meltdown to Europe's economic problems.

"Europe must decide whether it will support Greece unequivocally either through enlarged support or through an adequate restructuring," Flaherty said. "Not deciding is not an option."

The minister has warned that "some sort of world recession" could force the Conservative government to slow down its drive toward a balanced budget.

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