Bank of France says Fed overreacted to market decline

Interesting they would take a shot like that at the Fed. Probably concerned about Euro strength and the US gaining export share.

Bank of France Says Fed Overreacted to Market Decline

By Francois de Beaupuy

(Bloomberg) The Bank of France said the U.S. Federal Reserve may have cut interest rates too much and too quickly in response to financial-market declines.

An unsigned article in the Paris-based bank’s monthly bulletin, published today, said new financial products have amplified asset price swings.

That may lead to “stronger monetary reactions than what would otherwise be necessary, as shown by the recent decision of the Federal Reserve,” the article said.

The unusual criticism by one central bank of another may reflect the European Central Bank’s reluctance to follow its U.S. and U.K. counterparts in cutting rates to cushion against an economic slowdown. The ECB left its benchmark rate at 4 percent this month even as growth prospects deteriorate.

“The Bank of France is simply going along the ECB line, trying to manage expectations away from any response similar to the Fed,” said Gareth Claase, an economist at Royal Bank of Scotland Plc in London. “The Fed moved quickly and far. The ECB is likely to move slowly and little.”

The Fed has lowered its benchmark rate by 2.25 percentage points since September to 3 percent — including a three-quarter point emergency cut on Jan 22 — and traders expect another reduction next month.

‘Unusually High’
German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck said Feb. 12 he didn’t see ECB Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet shifting to a neutral stance, which might be a prelude to cutting rates. At a press conference last week, Trichet said uncertainty about growth prospects is “unusually high,” prompting traders to raise bets on a rate cut.

“Pressure on the ECB increased after the massive Fed rate cuts,” said Michael Schubert, an economist at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “The ECB has said that it won’t act anytime soon. It doesn’t want to be driven by the Fed.”

German investor confidence unexpectedly increased this month, a sign the European economy can weather the U.S. slowdown.

“It’s unusual for central banks to criticize the actions of others,” said Dominic Bryant, an economist at BNP Paribas in London. “The U.S. is in recession, so it’s somewhat difficult to say the Fed overreacted.”