Economists are warning policy makers in China to prepare for a reversal in US monetary policy to tightening during the second half of 2008.
Market analysts said they expected the US Federal Reserve Board to raise interest rates in the second half of the year, as inflation risks began to outweigh recession fears in the world's largest economy.
An expected strengthening of the US dollar following such a rate hike would divert speculative funds ("hot money") from emerging markets to the United States, increase the burden on countries with heavy foreign debts, and cause a regional economic crisis, He Fan, an economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said in a report released on Tuesday.
China, with hundreds of billions of US dollars in "hot money" that had already poured into the country, should closely watch the adjustment of US monetary policy and take much stricter measures to monitor capital flows in the meantime, said He.
"Hot money" outflows alone would not be so worrisome; it was the tight money supply that would follow the outflow that was of concern, said CASS economist Zhang Ming.
China's policy makers should closely monitor the situation and make timely adjustments to monetary policy, said Zhang.
The anticipated US monetary policy shift was also likely to cause price falls of dollar-denominated commodities such as grain and crude oil, which would help ease China's steep inflation, according to professor Huo Deming of the China Center for Economic Research at Peking University.