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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Saudi Arabia Refuses to Cut Rates

by Calculated Risk on 9/19/2007 06:19:00 PM

From The Telegraph: Fears of dollar collapse as Saudis take fright

Saudi Arabia has refused to cut interest rates in lockstep with the US Federal Reserve for the first time, signalling that the oil-rich Gulf kingdom is preparing to break the dollar currency peg in a move that risks setting off a stampede out of the dollar across the Middle East.

"This is a very dangerous situation for the dollar," said Hans Redeker, currency chief at BNP Paribas.

Saudi Arabia has $800bn (£400bn) in their future generation fund, and the entire region has $3,500bn under management. They face an inflationary threat and do not want to import an interest rate policy set for the recessionary conditions in the United States," he said.

The Saudi central bank said today that it would take "appropriate measures" to halt huge capital inflows into the country, but analysts say this policy is unsustainable and will inevitably lead to the collapse of the dollar peg.
This ties back to my post yesterday on a possible vicious cycle. To attract sufficient foreign capital flows to cover the U.S. current account deficit, interest rates in the U.S. may need to rise significantly.

The Greenspan conundrum was that long rates didn't rise at the Fed Funds rate was increased. Bernanke's conundrum may be that long rates don't fall (or maybe even increase) as he lowers the Fed Funds rate!