IMF urges Fed to delay rate hike until inflation evident

The IMF singled out the prospect of higher US rates as a particular challenge to the slow-growing world economy.
The IMF singled out the prospect of higher US rates as a particular challenge to the slow-growing world economy. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The International Monetary Fund said Thursday (Nov 12) that the US Federal Reserve should delay raising interest rates until there are clear signs of a pickup in inflation.

In a report on global economic issues prepared for the Nov 15-16 Group of 20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, the IMF singled out the prospect of higher US rates as a particular challenge to the slow-growing world economy.

In many advanced economies, it said, monetary policy "must remain accommodative, including through unconventional measures, to reduce risks to activity from low inflation and prolonged weak demand."

For the Fed, which could begin raising rates in December after holding the benchmark federal funds rate near zero since the end of 2008, the IMF urged waiting until it is clear that the downward pressure on inflation is past.

The Fed's decision "should remain data-dependent, with the first increase in the federal funds rate waiting until continued strength in the labor market is accompanied by firm signs of inflation rising steadily toward the Federal Reserve's two percent medium-term inflation objective," it said.

It also said the Bank of Japan, fighting weaker growth, "should stand ready for further easing," while the European Central Bank, itself mulling further growth stimulus efforts in the coming months, should make clear a strong commitment to its asset purchase program.

"Accommodative monetary policies remain essential in many advanced economies," the IMF said.