Did the G-20 Just Signal Further Global Easing?

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde (C) attends a meeting of G20 states finance ministers.
Yuri Kadobnov | AFP | Getty Images
International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde (C) attends a meeting of G20 states finance ministers.

Global finance ministers and central bank chiefs attending the Group of 20 nations (G-20) meeting in Moscow dismissed talk of a currency war over the weekend and said they would "refrain from competitive devaluation."

But by letting Japan off the hook and urging action to address the weak global economy, G-20 policymakers also signaled that further monetary and fiscal easing could lie ahead.

"There's been lots of talk of currency wars, and we have not seen any such thing as a currency war," Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, told journalists on Saturday.

(Read More: G-20 Defuses 'Currency War,' Japan Off the Hook)

Australia's Treasurer Wayne Swan told CNBC the issue was "completely overblown." And Japan's finance minister sounded almost relieved, after his country was spared any criticism, despite pursuing a monetary policy that has led the yen to weaken 21 percent against the dollar since mid-November.

Instead what came out of the G-20 meeting was a statement that sounded strongly pro-growth.

"We recognize that important risks remain and global growth is still too weak, with unemployment remaining unacceptably high in many countries," the final communique said. "Advanced economies will develop credible medium-term fiscal strategies … by the St. Petersburg summit."

Meanwhile, the IMF seemed to bless further monetary easing in the euro zone, with Christine Lagarde telling reporters that there was further room to cut "interest rates in the euro zone, [which are] clearly higher than in many other regions including the U.S., U.K., and Japan."

Those words are likely to provide a boost to France, which has been urging further stimulus for the euro zone in the face of German calls for austerity.

France's finance minister, Pierre Moscovici, who last week said the euro may be too strong, told CNBC in Moscow: "We can't neglect growth, the figures in the last trimester of 2012 are bad, they're bad for Britain, bad for Germany, bad for Spain, they're bad for France. This is why we need to reflect altogether on how we can move on."

(Read More: What Currency War? Move Along, G-20 Leaders Say)

Further stimulus by major economies, especially the euro zone, will in turn lead weaker currencies.

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You might be asking yourself: Isn't that the same thing as a "currency war"?

But policymakers will likely take comfort from last week's statement from the G-7 which drew a distinction between monetary easing to stimulate domestic demand and deliberate targeting of a currency level.

And according to Goldman Sachs analysts, there's another key difference between the two.

"Whereas competitive devaluation remains a zero-sum game, "competitive monetary easing" is net positive for global growth and effectively helps narrow the world's output gap. At a time of low inflation and high unemployment in many countries, competitive monetary easing is therefore a welcome policy," Goldman analysts wrote in a note to clients on Friday.