IMF chief warns dollar may suffer ‘abrupt fall’

WASHINGTON, Oct 22, 2007 (AFP) – The head of the International Monetary Fund, Rodrigo Rato, warned Monday there are risks of an “abrupt fall” in the dollar, linked to a loss of confidence in dollar assets. “There are risks that an abrupt fall in the dollar could either be triggered by, or itself trigger, a loss of confidence in dollar assets,” Rato told the IMF board of governors.

He also appeared to suggest that Europe could take steps to temper the strong appreciation of the euro.

“There is a risk that exchange rate appreciation in countries with flexible exchange rates — including the euro area — could hurt their growth prospects, and that in these circumstances protectionist pressures could worsen,” he said on the final day of the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank.

The outgoing IMF managing director spoke as the European single currency hit a new high of 1.4347 dollars and global equity markets tumbled amid growing fears a US housing-related credit crunch could pitch the world’s biggest economy into recession.

“The uncertainty … comes from downside risks that are much higher than they were six months ago. The turbulence in the credit markets is a warning that we canno