Bank of Canada official counters fears on Fed tapering

Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:03pm EDT
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By Louise Egan

KINGSTON, Ontario (Reuters) - The eventual removal by the U.S. Federal Reserve of its monetary policy stimulus should be viewed positively, Bank of Canada Deputy Governor John Murray said on Tuesday in a rebuttal to critics who expect Fed tapering to reverberate negatively around the world.

Whenever the Fed begins winding down its unconventional monetary policy, Murray said, it will take place in the context of a strengthening U.S. economy, and the benefits for the Canadian economy will outweigh any risks.

"The improving underlying strength of the U.S. economy should more than compensate for the drag from higher interest rates. Stronger external demand, coupled with downward pressure on our currency and support for commodity prices from a global economic recovery, will provide the lift," he said in a speech.

The Fed has said it plans to start reducing its massive bond purchase program by year end, with an eye toward drawing it to a close by mid-2014. The Fed's $85 billion a month in purchases of U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities has been aimed at driving down long-term interest rates and has been credited with an infusion of liquidity that has benefited global financial markets.

The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Dennis Lockhart, told Reuters on Saturday at the annual Jackson Hole policy retreat for the world's central bankers that tapering could begin in September, provided there is not "really worrisome" economic news between now and then.

Concerns over Fed tapering have sparked an exodus of cash from emerging markets, including India and Brazil, whose currencies and stock markets suffered steep losses in recent days.

"Before getting too excited about the negative consequences of exiting, it is important to step back and consider why events might unfold in a manner that is more benign than some critics have feared," Murray declared.

The exit will start from a point of extraordinary policy accommodation and only take place when officials believe there are clear and convincing signs the U.S. economy and, subsequently, others, have achieved self-sustaining momentum.

In addition, monetary authorities have learned the value of clear communication, not all advanced economies will exit at the same time, and, in any event, unconventional monetary policy is not really all that unconventional, Murray added.

(With additional reporting by David Ljunggren; Writing by Randall Palmer; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Leslie Adler)