April 10, 2014 / 3:41 PM / 6 years ago

India central bank's Rajan urges global crisis 'safety net'

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India’s central bank Governor, Raghuram Rajan, on Thursday proposed the creation of a global “safety net” administered by a multilateral body such as the International Monetary Fund that could provide funds for countries in case of economic emergency.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan prepares to read the bi-monthly monetary policy statement at a news conference at the RBI headquarters in Mumbai April 1, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Providing such cash would ease pressures on countries to build up currency reserves as defenses against any sudden outflows, said Rajan, endorsing a scheme that has previously been proposed by the IMF and discussed by policymakers.

Rajan, a former chief economist at the IMF, repeated his call for central banks to be mindful of the impact of their policies on other countries.

The Reserve Bank of India governor went on to propose the appointment of “an impartial international assessor” who could examine the effects of unconventional central bank monetary policies on the global economy, although he did call this recommendation “a little too idealistic.”

Rajan’s reflections were contained in a prepared speech the prominent economist was due to deliver at the Brookings Institution in Washington on Thursday.

“We have to design a better multilateral liquidity safety net so that countries do not feel they are on their own in managing market turmoil, and so that they do not build enormous stockpiles of reserves,” the text of the speech read.

Rajan, who took the helm of the RBI in early September, has previously criticized the U.S. Federal Reserve for not taking into account the impact of its easy monetary policy on emerging economies.

The Fed’s policies, adopted gradually in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, had propped up emerging market assets, but hit India hard last year when investors feared the U.S. central bank would start unwinding its program.

The rupee slumped to a record low in late August as investors feared outflows in a country that depends on foreign capital to bridge its current account deficit.

Although the actual start of the Fed’s withdrawal of its monetary stimulus in December had little impact on India after the country took steps to narrow its current account deficit, the RBI has started buying dollars and bolstering its foreign exchange reserves since last month to curb volatility in the rupee after a recent rally.

Rajan said a global safety net would be good policy that could help limit the need to build up reserves, offering little credit risk against what he called “extreme balance sheet policies,” without specifying whose policies he was referring to.

“Multilateral arrangements are tried and tested, and are available more widely, and without some of the possible political pressures that could arise from bilateral and regional arrangements,” Rajan said.

“Indeed swap arrangements can be channeled through multilateral institutions like the IMF instead of being conducted on a bilateral basis.”

Editing by Rafael Nam and Eric Meijer

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