U.S. could face heat for lifting rates

April 24, 1994|By Bloomberg Business News

WASHINGTON -- The United States could hear some criticism today from other major industrialized nations for the recent rise in interest rates.

Though the Clinton administration can point to success in boosting domestic growth, finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations, gathering here today for one of their regular meetings to discuss the world economy, may express concern about the U.S. interest rate explosion.

The rapid rise in the yield on the benchmark 30-year U.S. Treasury bond has caused alarm that long-term interest rates could rise globally, dampening prospects for economic recovery Europe and Japan.

The Federal Reserve Board "must be quite concerned about the current turbulence in U.S. bond and stock markets," said Shunsuke Sekiguchi, foreign exchange manager at Mitsubishi Bank in Tokyo.

"They could face criticism for bringing it on."

Hoping to head off future inflation, the Fed in three actions since February has pushed the federal funds rate on overnight loans among banks to 3.75 percent from 3 percent.

Despite the Fed's moves to contain inflation, bond market investors have pushed up long-term interest rates on concerns that strong U.S. economic growth will fuel large price increases in the future.

Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen said Thursday that inflation was under control. The rise in long-term rates is unwarranted, he added, expressing the hope that they will moderate.

In the end, that may be all the G-7 ministers will do, too.

"To call for stability in the bond markets in order to avoid a rise in global longterm interest rates -- that's about all the G-7 nations can do," said Kazuyuki Mori, assistant manager of the treasury department at Sumitomo Bank in Tokyo.

Mr. Bentsen said the G-7 ministers do not plan to issue a statement after their meeting.

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