Late Fed taper may do more harm than good for emerging nations

Oct 14 2013, 13:15 IST
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Brazil's Finance Minister Guido Mantega points to a sheet of paper highlighting the reserves of different countries. (Reuters) Brazil's Finance Minister Guido Mantega points to a sheet of paper highlighting the reserves of different countries. (Reuters)
SummaryClear examples are the economies of India and Brazil, which have slowed sharply recently.

Emerging nations heaved a sigh of relief when the Federal Reserve last month decided not to reduce its monetary stimulus.

By postponing the inevitable, the U.S. central bank took pressure off emerging markets to implement reforms that could make them more resilient when the Fed does eventually reverse policy.

"It's very easy to get addicted to high global liquidity," Guillermo Ortiz, chairman of Mexico's largest locally owned bank, Grupo Financiero Banorte, told Reuters.

"I think it's better to bite the bullet now to avoid a more painful withdrawal for EM countries in the future," said Ortiz, who has served as both finance minister and central bank chief for Mexico.

Clear examples are the economies of Brazil and India, which have slowed sharply recently due in part to the lack of government action to remove bottlenecks of growth such as high taxes and cumbersome red tape.

Emerging economies cried foul as the U.S. central bank injected trillions of dollars into the financial system, sending a wave of speculative capital into their markets that threatened to drive up inflation and fuel asset bubbles.

Then, in May, Fed chief Ben Bernanke signaled that the central bank might soon begin to scale back the $85 billion in bonds they were buying each month to keep borrowing costs down.

This led to a sharp reversal in capital flows that dragged emerging nations' currencies to multi-year lows and eroded their balance of payments.

The Fed drew fire from some emerging nations for not having prepared financial markets better for a sea-change in its policies.

Economic leaders of emerging nations meeting in Washington over the past few days called on the United States to better communicate its policy intentions to avoid market disruptions.

They also applauded U.S. President Barack Obama's nomination of monetary policy dove Janet Yellen to succeed Bernanke at the helm of the Fed in January.

Yellen, who still needs to win the backing of the U.S. Senate, has been an advocate of aggressive action to drive down U.S. unemployment, and would be expected to move cautiously in reining in the central bank's extensive monetary stimulus.

Her nomination, coupled with a protracted political impasse over the U.S. budget and debt ceiling, has already led economists to push back their expectations for when the Fed will begin to taper its asset purchases.

"There is every indication that Yellen has a very sensitive ear to the issues of spillovers, the concerns of emerging markets and understanding of the need of

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