The IMF prodded the world's rich countries for swifter action on Thursday as Europe's debt crisis drags on while the United States and Japan show scant progress handling their budget deficits.
Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said political wrangling added to economic uncertainty, slowing growth in both advanced and emerging economies. The IMF cut its global growth forecast this week for the second time since April.
"We expect action and we expect courageous and cooperative action on the part of our members," Lagarde said in a news briefing ahead of the IMF's twice-yearly meetings in Tokyo.
The IMF has expressed frustration with Europe's piecemeal response to its debt crisis and warned that a recent respite in borrowing costs for debt-laden countries such as Spain may prove short-lived unless euro zone leaders come up with a comprehensive and credible plan.
Standard & Poor's cut its rating on Spain on Wednesday to a level just above junk territory, and Moody's may soon follow.
The IMF itself is struggling to muster the sort of decisive action that Lagarde wants to see from world leaders. Its 188 member countries meet on Friday and Saturday, and will fall short of a goal to implement voting reforms that would give large emerging economies greater say and elevate China to the No. 3 spot in IMF power.
A territorial dispute between Japan and China added another element of disharmony. China's top central bank and finance ministry officials backed out of the meetings and sent deputies to Tokyo instead. Lagarde said she hoped the world's second- and third-largest economies could resolve their differences "harmoniously and expeditiously."
"I think they lose out by not attending the meeting," she said of the Chinese officials. "And they will be missing something great."
(Writing by Emily Kaiser; Editing by Tim Ahmann)