RIO DE JANEIRO The end of the latest phase of the U.S. Federal Reserve's loose monetary policy is unlikely to cause a major pullback of funds from emerging markets and should be a "minor event," the International Monetary Fund's chief economist told Reuters on Thursday.
The Fed's quantitative easing program has been blamed by some officials in emerging markets for encouraging a flood of funds that have pushed up currencies and created overheating pressures in countries such as Brazil.
The IMF's Olivier Blanchard, in an interview in Rio de Janeiro, said such concerns were overblown and that there were no economies that were obviously overheating.
"I think that QE2 is a much more minor event than has been said," Blanchard said. "I think its disappearance will be a minor event."
Financial markets are bracing for the conclusion of Fed's cheap-money policy, dubbed QE2 by investors, at the end of June. The U.S. central bank's second round of asset purchases aimed at spurring the economy has been credited with boosting stocks and blamed for sky-high commodities prices and a weak dollar.
Blanchard said U.S. interest rates were likely to remain low for at least another year because the economic recovery in the world's largest economy remained weak.
"There is no question that housing investment is not going to pick up for a long time, I think we are talking years. Then you have fiscal consolidation, which is going to be a brake."
Inflation dangers are a "nonissue" in the U.S. economy and only slightly bigger in Europe, Blanchard said.
"I think you're going to have sluggish recovery in the United States and you're going to have a sluggish recovery in Europe because on the demand side there are many components that will remain weak," he said.
He said that while there was a need for cooling down in some countries, such as Turkey and Brazil, there were no obvious signs of perilous overheating in any emerging economy, including China's.
(Reporting by Stuart Grudgings; editing by Todd Benson, Chizu Nomiyama and Jeffrey Benkoe