Tags: Stiglitz | Fed | Rate | Policy | Asset | Bubbles | Joseph

Stiglitz: Fed Rate Policy May Cause Asset Bubbles

Wednesday, 06 Oct 2010 11:40 AM

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said the Federal Reserve’s policy of cutting interest rates to a record low has caused problems worldwide, including currency misalignments and the risk of asset price bubbles.

“Fed policy was supposed to reignite the American economy, but it’s not doing that,” Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University in New York since 2001, said in a Bloomberg Television interview today. “The flood of liquidity is going abroad and causing problems all over the world.”

Japan sold the yen last month for the first time in six years to spur exports and economic growth, joining countries across Asia and Latin America that have sought to temper gains in their currencies against the dollar. Tensions over exchange rate policies prompted Brazil’s Finance Minister Guido Mantega to warn Sept. 27 of a “currency war.”

The dollar fell to a 15-year low against the yen today after a private report showed U.S. companies unexpectedly cut jobs last month, fueling speculation the Fed will buy assets to spur a slowing economy.

The dollar declined 0.4 percent to 82.90 yen at 10:07 a.m. in New York, from 83.22 yesterday. It touched 82.77, the weakest level since May 1995 and less than the low of 82.88 on Sept. 15, when Japan sold yen to weaken its value.

“The worry is that the flood of liquidity is going to cause what is sometimes being referred to as an emerging-market bubble,” Stiglitz said. “Money is going in, and the worry is it will cause a real estate bubble in one developing country or another.”

Slight Stimulus

An expansion of the Fed’s balance sheet, now under consideration by central bank policy makers, would provide only slight stimulus to the U.S. economy, Stiglitz said.

Such a move “might help a little bit in the U.S., causing a lot of problems around the world and not actually addressing the fundamental problems here at home,” he said.

The Fed cut its benchmark interest rate almost to zero at the height of the financial crisis in December 2008 and turned to asset purchases to bring down long-term borrowing costs.

The central bank eventually bought $1.7 trillion of mortgage-backed securities, agency debt and Treasuries. The purchases ended in March, and the Fed began to lay plans to exit from its unprecedented intervention.

In August, the central bank announced it would keep its securities holdings unchanged at $2.05 trillion by reinvesting proceeds from mortgage debt into Treasuries, putting the exit on hold.

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said Oct. 4 that restarting large-scale asset purchases would probably spur growth, after saying last week that the central bank has a duty to aid the economy as U.S. unemployment holds near 10 percent.

“What really is needed is effective stimulus,” Stiglitz said.

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Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said the Federal Reserve s policy of cutting interest rates to a record low has caused problems worldwide, including currency misalignments and the risk of asset price bubbles. Fed policy was supposed to reignite the American...
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2010-40-06
Wednesday, 06 Oct 2010 11:40 AM
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