Fed decision likely reflected voice of emerging economies, says Japan's finance minister

A trader working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Sept 17, 2015.
A trader working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Sept 17, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Friday (Sept 18) that the US decision to hold interest rates steady probably reflected lobbying by emerging economies at the recent G20 meeting that rapid US rate hikes would damage their economies.

Aso said low US rates and capital flows into emerging economies had supported their growth since the global financial crisis, suggesting the US should take future rate rises slowly, given fears that rapid hikes would spur capital flight.

"A lot of countries would face depreciation of their own currencies if the US raises rates rapidly just because of improvements in its own economy, which would cause a reversal of capital back to the US," Mr Aso told reporters after a cabinet meeting. "I think there are many countries that won't welcome capital flight."

The US Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged on Thursday, probably giving in to worries about the global economy, financial market volatility, and sluggish inflation at home.

It did, however, leave open the possibility of a modest policy tightening later this year.

At the G20 finance chiefs' meeting in Turkey this month, emerging market nations including the BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - voiced concerns that rapid U.S. rate hikes could cause their economies to slump, Aso said.

"Responses from other countries probably had a certain impact" on the Fed decision, he said.

Economics Minister Akira Amari said the Fed's decision to delay a rate increase likely reflected the state of the US and the world economy, noting the Fed's course of action was appropriate.