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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs  6 November 2010

Fed stimulus rattles Asia

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China has led an Asian backlash against measures by the United States to kick start economic recovery, which have stoked concerns that a flood of loose money could destabilize regional economies. The U.S. Federal Reserve said Wednesday it would pump $600 billion into the economy through debt purchases -effectively printing money-to boost employment and growth.

But Asian nations fear the effects of extra cash pumping through the financial system-as traders seek a better return on their dollar than they would get in the West.

Stock markets, which had already made big gains in anticipation of the stimulus, surged on Thursday and Friday.

But the plan prompted warnings of a wave of protectionism and capital control measures by Asian nations to stave off so-called hot money, inflaming tensions ahead of next week's Group of 20 summit in South Korea.

Xia urged developing countries to impose capital controls to "prevent hot money inflows from impacting their economy".

Indonesia's central bank said it viewed foreign capital inflows as a greater threat than price inflation, as it kept its key interest rate unchanged at a historic low of 6.50 percent.

Bank Indonesia also ordered commercial banks to raise their reserves to absorb excess funds and stem inflationary pressures.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino said the Fed measures would hurt his nation's economy, especially its beleaguered export sector.

"No country in the world can defend its currency or manage this spread forever," he warned.

Central bank governor Amando Tetangco said it would "remain vigilant in monitoring developments and gauging how effectively these Fed moves will perk up real US growth".

Thai Finance Minister Korn Chati-kavanij said the Thai central bank governor was "in close talks with his Asian counterparts and if there is a continuous inflow of capital into regional economies, we will put in place measures to curb speculation and prevent serious volatility."

The dollar's weakness has weighed on Asian currencies and Wednesday's move sent the greenback down further, reigniting the issue of a possible currency war as nations try to restrain their currencies from rising.

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