Lagarde warns emerging economies to prepare for US interest rate rise
MUMBAIMar 17, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
Mar 17, 2015 12:00 am
The Federal Open Market Committee was scheduled to start a two-day meeting late yesterday, and is expected to put out its statement and projections on Wednesday afternoon. International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde warned on Tuesday that emerging markets must prepare for the impact of U.S. interest rate rises, whose timing could surprise markets.
Lagarde said the so-called "taper tantrum" that hit emerging economies hard in 2013 could be repeated. The U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) caused panic in 2013 when it first signaled a reduction in its multi-billion dollar asset purchases to stimulate the economy. "The danger is that vulnerabilities that build up during a period of very accommodative monetary policy can unwind suddenly when such policy is reversed, creating substantial market volatility," Lagarde said in prepared remarks in Mumbai at the end of a two-day visit to India. "We already got a taste of it during the taper tantrum episode in May and June of 2013, when most emerging market economies suffered indiscriminate capital outflows. I am afraid this may not be a one-off episode. This is so because the timing of interest rate lift-off and the pace of subsequent rate increases can still surprise markets. Emerging markets need to prepare in advance to deal with this uncertainty," she stressed. Lagarde said developed economies could help avoid future volatility with "clear and effective communication of policy intentions. We are perhaps approaching the point where, for the first time since 2006, the United States will raise short-term interest rates later this year, as the first country to start the process of normalizing its monetary policy," she said. "Even if this process is well managed, the likely volatility in financial markets could give rise to potential stability risks." Emerging economies could prepare for future swings including through higher gross domestic product (GDP) growth, stronger external current account positions and lower inflation. Central banks must also be ready to act, with aggressive and temporary liquidity support and targeted foreign exchange interventions, she advised.