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Fed should ‘quickly’ wind up stimulus program, Flaherty says

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is pictured Sept. 19, 2013 on Parliament Hill. Mr. Flaherty says the U.S. Federal Reserve should wind up its extraordinary bond-buying program with haste.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says the U.S. Federal Reserve should wind up its extraordinary bond-buying program with haste, saying the effort risks the long-term stability of the world's most import economy.

"I don't think they should have done it in the first place," Mr. Flaherty told reporters Thursday in Washington when asked to share his thoughts on the Fed's controversial policy, known as quantitative easing, or QE. "Now that they have, they should get out of it as quickly as they can."

The comments are Mr. Flaherty's most expansive on a subject that has divided market participants and policy makers around the world. The Fed has created some $3-trillion (U.S.) since the crisis to purchase financial assets and keep downward pressure on interest rates.

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The Bank of Japan and the Bank of England also have deployed QE. Canada's central bank dropped its benchmark rate to nearly zero, but never saw the need to create money, a technique that some say risks stoking inflation and blowing asset-price bubbles.

Mr. Flaherty said he is one of those people, citing the prospect of inflation as one of the reasons he worries that monetary policy has set the global economy on a dangerous path. He recalled the 1980s, when clients of his law firm would arrive to turn over their house keys because they couldn't afford double-digit mortgage rates.

"It's a short-term remedy that has long-term consequences," Mr. Flaherty said of QE. "For that reason, I'm not a supporter."

Mr. Flaherty is in Washington for a series of international gatherings, including a meeting of the G20 finance chiefs Friday and the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank on the weekend.

Fed policy will be a major subject of debate because uncertainty about how the Fed will reverse its bond-buying program has rocked financial markets in recent months.

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About the Author
Senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation

Kevin Carmichael is a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, based in Mumbai.Previously, he was Report on Business's correspondent in Washington. He has covered finance and economics for a decade, mostly as a reporter with Bloomberg News in Ottawa and Washington. A native of New Brunswick's Upper St. More

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