O'Neill Says U.S. Strong Dollar Policy 'Good, Continuous'

By BridgeNews U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said Sept. 5 the U.S. "strong dollar policy" is "good" and "continuous." Speaking to reporters about his upcoming trip to China and Japan, O'Neill also challenged a reporter who said that President George W. Bush appeared to have ruled out intervention in foreign-exchange markets. "I don't know that I agree with your premise," O'Neill replied. Asked about the role of foreign-exchange rates in his discussion with Japanese officials, O'Neill indicated currencies have not been part of the talks and subsequently reiterated that U.S. dollar policy is "the same. The strong dollar policy is good, continuous." President Bush had said in mid-July that it is up to foreign exchange markets to determine the appropriate value of the dollar and that the U.S. would not seek to artificially enter the market. That prompted speculation that the U.S. was softening its support for a "strong" dollar. O'Neill said Wednesday it is time for "decisive action" to turn around Japan's economy, which has been "underperforming" in recent years. Asked if he had picked up any indication that Japan was trying to rely on exports to stimulate its economy, O'Neill said that didn't seem to be an issue "that will be on the table." Recently, some Japanese officials have expressed concern about the yen's rise, with Japan Vice Finance Minister for International Affairs Haruhiko Kuroda saying the "strong yen doesn't reflect economic fundamentals." O'Neill indicated the U.S. would have an open mind about issues to be discussed during his meetings with Japanese officials. "We'll see what Japanese leaders are interested in talking about," he said. Japanese Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa is due to meet O'Neill Sept. 12. O'Neill reiterated that the U.S. would be ready to offer advice to Japan but would not tell Japan how it should structure its economy.

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