The U.S. economy is expected to have a stronger recovery in 2014, and the Fed's tapering of the quantitative easing should be slow and careful, an economist at Merrill Lynch told Xinhua on Monday in an exclusive interview.
"The recovery in the U.S. housing market sent a strong signal that we are getting close to a new round of stronger growth," said Ethan Harris, the co-head of Global Economics Research at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research.
Housing market, which is central to the economy, is key to the household balance sheets, the construction industry and the banking industry. During the first three years after the global financial crisis, American consumers ran away from the housing market because of a high level of foreclosure and dropping home prices.
Thanks to the Fed's zero interest rate policy and quantitative easing, the housing market has been healed, he said.
"In the last two years, we are cleaning out about two thirds of the foreclosures and the housing market started to operate normally again," Harris said, "the market has a lot of momentum. We think the housing market will continue to recover even with higher mortgage rates."
The next year would be the first year of solid growth in this recovery. "It's important to understand that the U.S. had a significant healing from the crisis," he added.
Since the easing policy has helped banks become more profitable and companies have much stronger balance sheets, the U.S. economy was expected to expand by 3-3.5 percent despite that the market is still in the paranoid feeling of fiscal shocks, according to Harris.
With regard to the withdrawal of quantitative easing, Harris said he agreed with Fed's strategy of a slow quit. "I think the action is going to be even slower than they are saying," he said, "we are still stuck in the 2-percent economic growth right now and the inflation is going to remain stubbornly low."
The market has forecast a tapering in September in the early days, while Harris said that September may not be the right month to make a policy change due to lots of uncertainties, such as the fiscal debate in Washington and the debates over Syria as well as the new Fed's Chairman.
"If you look at the data in recent months, here's an economy that is particularly sensitive to interest rates and that actually shows some weaknesses lately," Harris said, "the Fed is more likely to wait until December to take action."
Talking about the large amount of capital which has fled the emerging markets since the start of the year as the U.S. signaled that the era of easy money would be ending, Harris said it's a panic in the market and that Fed's slower action and a foreseeable better U.S. growth can be the way to settle them down.
The emerging markets were particular vulnerable for the tapering, especially those countries that have big external deficits and with aggressive hot money coming in and out.
"As soon as the market signs there's a shift, these markets can get hit very hard," Harris said, "but I think that ultimately, the global economy and the emerging market will do fine with the Fed's exit."
As to the economic concerns over China, Harris said that a hard landing is not likely to happen because the government can calibrate with the reforms and its anti-corruption actions. The reasonable inflation environment also allows the Chinese government flexibility during economic weakness, he said.