Saturday, 15 April, 2000Protests and share slide cloud G7
A gathering in Washington of finance ministers from the G7 group of developed countries is being overshadowed by huge falls in the price of shares in New York and the prospect of major demonstrations.
Shortly before the meeting began, police raided and closed down a warehouse used by anti-globalisation protesters as their headquarters, because fire officials had declared it unsafe.
Moving through the building, officers seized a plastic container with a rag stuffed inside and what looked like a wick - a suspected Molotov cocktail.
The centre was being used by hundreds of demonstrators to train for mass protests planned for Sunday and Monday.
Police are determined to prevent a repetition of the violent protests which disrupted the World Trade Organisation conference in Seattle in December.
Two people were arrested as the centre was evacuated.
Friday's crash on US markets, which wiped more than $1,000bn off the value of America's leading companies is one of the main items on the finance ministers' agenda.
Speaking on a BBC News Online webcast before the meeting began, World Bank President Jim Wolfensohn said international financial institutions shared common goals with the protesters.
"I think all of us are joined in exactly the same objectives, which is to deal with questions of poverty and to try and make it a better world," he said.
"I think the methodology being used is different. We want to keep working on it and some of the protesters are trying to close us down."
Mr Wolfensohn added that he regarded the stock market fall as "healthy" because many companies had been overvalued.
Market losses"It's never comfortable when the bubble bursts, but I think that it is probably in the long run very healthy," he said.
Dow Jones: -616, record points fall
Nasdaq: -356, nearly $500bn loss
He added that the "real economic figures" for the coming year were very good, particularly in the developing world, where the World Bank projected growth of about 4.8%.
Both the Dow Jones industrial average and the Nasdaq index, on which internet companies are heavily represented, recorded their biggest-ever falls on Friday - down 5.6% and 9.7% respectively.
The US Treasury Secretary, Lawrence Summers, said the American economy remained sound.
But analysts say it will take strong nerves on Monday for the European markets not to follow the fall in the US.
For several years, the high level of US shares has been seen by the International Monetary Fund as a possible source of turbulence for the world economy.
The G7 ministers will also discuss Russia's economic situation, and ways to enable Moscow to make a success of its transition to democratic politics and the market economy.
Japan, which has severe economic problems of its own, is likely to be pressed to push ahead with economic reforms to strengthen its banks and generate a recovery after almost a decade of weak economic performance.