The Bank for International Settlements said there’s a risk central banks will raise interest rates and withdraw emergency liquidity too late, triggering inflation.
History shows that policy makers “have a tendency to be late, tightening financial conditions slowly for fear of doing it prematurely or too severely,” the BIS, which oversees central banks, said in its annual report published today in Basel, Switzerland. “Because their current expansionary actions were prompted by a nearly catastrophic crisis, central bankers’ fears of reversing too quickly are likely to be particularly intense, increasing the risk that they will tighten too late.”
Central banks around the globe have lowered borrowing costs to record lows and injected billions of dollars into the financial system to counter the worst recession since World War II. While some policy makers have stressed the need to withdraw the emergency measures as soon as the economy improves, the Federal Reserve, Bank of England, and European Central Bank are still in the process of implementing asset-purchase programs designed to unblock credit markets and revive growth.
“The big and justifiable worry is that, before it can be reversed, the dramatic easing in monetary policy will translate into growth in the broader monetary and credit aggregates,” the BIS said. That will “lead to inflation that feeds inflation expectations or it may fuel yet another asset-price bubble, sowing the seeds of the next financial boom-bust cycle.”