US financial official defends stimulus package

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A top U.S. financial official says he is surprised by condemnation of the American stimulus package.

Fred P. Hochberg, chairman of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, told reporters in South Africa Wednesday the goal was to strengthen recovery in a country that has been “the engine that has driven the world’s economy.”

Last week, South Africa’s finance minister was among those criticizing the U.S. plan to buy $600 billion worth of government bonds to make loans cheaper and boost spending. The finance minister says the dollars will flow into developing countries’ financial markets, increasing the strength of their currencies with devastating consequences for exports.

Hochberg is in South Africa to discuss funding U.S. participation in infrastructure projects.

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