China raises interest rates to nip inflation

interest rates paper

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: China tugged hard on its economic reins again today, trying to cool things down. Beijing raised interest rates for the second time in just over six weeks. The government's worried stubbornly high inflation could feed some popular discontent.

Same thing's happening elsewhere. The rising cost of living is part of what's happening in Egypt. Just today, Brazil and Chile reported fresh inflation worries. Our senior business correspondent Bob Moon has more.


Bob Moon: Given the economic climate here at home, there hasn't been a lot of attention paid to inflation. If anything, the Federal Reserve has been focused on getting the economy jump-started just about any way it can. Now, some worry the Fed's policies might be adding to global inflationary pressures.

Investment strategy researcher Ed Yardeni argues that food, oil and other prices around the world are being artificially inflated by the flood of U.S. money.

Ed Yardeni: That is certainly encouraging commodity speculators to not only buy these commodities for end-users, but also on a speculative basis.

Just last week, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke rejected that idea. He suggested the U.S. has its own troubles to worry about, and other countries can deal with their inflationary issues.

Ben Bernanke: I think it's entirely unfair to attribute excess demand pressures in emerging markets to U.S. monetary policy, because emerging markets have all the tools they need to address excess demand in those countries.

Such as, Benanke added, adjusting the value of their currency -- a not-so-veiled reference to China.

Charles Schultze headed President Jimmy Carter's Council of Economic Advisers. He says the U.S. doesn't need to worry about the kind of surging inflation threatening China and other developing countries, but he concedes rising food and energy prices could still be an unwanted drag.

Charles Schultze: What it does, even if it's not setting off inflation, it does take purchasing power away from U.S. workers. And it could have an effect on consumption, which wouldn't be good.

Although Schultze points out American consumers have been increasing their spending in spite of those higher prices. Yardeni, on the other hand, suggests a slight rise in interest rates here could help keep prices in check, without stifling the recovery.

I'm Bob Moon for Marketplace.

About the author

Bob Moon is Marketplace’s senior business correspondent, based in Los Angeles.

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