The head of the International Monetary Fund, Rodrigo Rato, warned Monday of a potential “abrupt fall” in the US dollar that could roil the global economy.
“There are risks that an abrupt fall in the dollar could either be triggered by, or itself trigger, a loss of confidence in dollar assets,” Rato said at the close of annual meetings here of the IMF and the World Bank.
The outgoing IMF managing director spoke here as the European single currency hit a new high of 1.4347 dollars and global equity markets plunged amid renewed fears a US credit crunch could pitch the world’s biggest economy into recession.
“The uncertainty … comes from downside risks that are much higher than they were six months ago. The turbulence in the credit markets is a warning that we cannot take the benign (global) economic environment of recent years for granted,” Rato said on the final day of the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank.
“We still do not know the full effects of the decline in the housing market and the subprime problems of the US economy. Further disruption in financial markets and further falls in housing prices could lead to a global economic downturn,” he said.
A crisis in the risky US subprime mortgage sector, where loans are given to homebuyers with poor credit histories, erupted this year as borrowers defaulted on mortgages amid rising interest rates and a sharp slump in US housing prices.
The credit woes spilled into global financial markets and roiled stock markets worldwide in August. Although markets have recovered somewhat, the uncertainties of the extent of the problems are plaguing investors.
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