Breaking the bubbles

G-8 Finance Ministers Plan for Reducing Economic Stimulus

LECCE, Italy — World financial leaders are starting to examine how they’ll unwind their emergency spending packages and bank rescues amid signs the economic crisis may have hit bottom.

Finance ministers from the Group of Eight major industrial powers on Saturday asked the International Monetary Fund to research strategies to slim budget deficits and reduce government presence in the financial sector, but in a way that wouldn’t reignite the crisis.

Economic and financial recovery “will be stronger and more sustainable if we make clear today how we get back to fiscal sustainability when the storm has fully passed,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told reporters at the close of two days of meetings in the Italian city of Lecce.

The U.S., now 18 months into its recession, has seen new jobless claims stabilize, while consumer spending has stopped falling on a monthly basis. Economic growth has picked up in China and some other emerging nations.

“I think it’s appropriate that we do look a little bit down the road and plan to get the private sector back into the markets and the public sector withdrawing from the markets,” Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told reporters as the meetings began.