Veteran fund manager Mark Mobius has waded into the debate over whether the U.S. Federal Reserve would hike rates in September, saying that the U.S. economic recovery wasn't durable enough to warrant a rise.
"I think the key factor is inflation," Mobius, chairman of the emerging markets group at Franklin Templeton Investments, told CNBC on Monday.
"The Fed should be concerned with inflation and what interest rate should be in relation to inflation. And we don't see inflation coming up in any significant degree," he added.
Fed-watchers are divided over whether the U.S. central bank will raise rates next month as it had previously flagged, with Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer adding to doubts at the weekend by commenting that it was too early to tell whether recent market turmoil had made a September hike more or less compelling.
Mobius' outlook on inflation stands in contrast to that of Fischer, who said there was "good reason to believe" inflation would rise as downward price pressure from the strengthening dollar, falling oil prices and slack in the U.S. labor market faded .
"Given the apparent stability of inflation expectations, there is good reason to believe that inflation will move higher as the forces holding down inflation dissipate further," Fischer told a central bankers' conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Saturday. "With inflation low, we can probably remove accommodation at a gradual pace," he added.
Investors have been re-calibrating their expectations on the timing of the first Fed rate hike in nine years following the turmoil that swept through global markets in August, with many pushing back forecasts to the fourth quarter.
Mobius said, meanwhile, that the U.S. central bank appeared to be suffering confusion over its mandate, adding to the uncertainty over rates.
"I don't think they should be focusing on the jobs market . They should be looking at inflation, that's really their mandate," Mobius said. "They're getting it confused with growth."
"[This] is why you are seeing debates within the Fed regarding what to do because, the old timers are saying look, let's not get away from our mandate," he said.
The inflation measure most closely watched by the Federal Reserve - the price index for personal consumption expenditures - rose a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent last month, compared with a 0.2 percent increase in June. On year, prices were up just 0.3 percent, marking the 39 straight month in which the reading was below the Fed's 2 percent inflation target.