We thought the following from TD Securities’ Richard Gilhooly on Tuesday was a rather insightful way of looking at the whole BoJ effect (our emphasis):
While it remains a contentious point and as yet unproven, Japan’s devaluation and soaring Nikkei vs slumping DAX or Bovespa has all the hallmarks of a competitive devaluation. While competing factions debate the Monetary expansion/QQE, versus beggar-thy-neighbour interpretation, one positive aspect of the Japanese Yen collapse and fear of exported deflation has been collapsing commodity prices with weak growth in export countries (China, Germany, S Korea) and a stronger USD helping a supply story (crude inventories at 22yr highs) and weak demand send commodities into a bear market.
Now that we have Chinese socialites engaging in public cat fights over who is richer, posting snapshots of their bank accounts “Rich Kids of Instagram style“, one has to wonder if it may be worth revisiting John Hempton’s prediction last year that the Chinese authorities will finally crack down on this sort of over-the-top gratuitous wealth display, and when that happens the luxury brands — among them Swiss watches — will begin to suffer.
(*We should note the “I’m really richer than you” meme possibly applies to Prince Alwaleed bin Talal as well). Read more
This is is a guest post from Philip Pilkington, a writer and research assistant at Kingston University.
In January of this year I noted that the Japanese government was embarking on a stimulus programme and briefly enquired into whether it would likely work or not . At the time media commentary was mixed. Some were saying that it would be a complete failure while others were overflowing with optimism. I was slightly more reserved. Read more
Well, some of them at least. One of the big determinants of whether ‘Abenomics’ manages to pull Japan from its deflationary spiral is through wage growth. Inflation can’t really kick off or arguably even begin without rising wages. One can argue about how important wage growth is, or where it fits in causality-wise — and we’ll come to that later. But it is — or will be — an important signal as to whether this three-pronged approach of the new-ish Japanese government is working.
And actually, it might be catching on. Read more
… the Japanese seek inflation everywhere.
All this talk about Japan, JGB bond yields, QE, the yen… and hardly ever does anyone throw up the following chart.
So, without further ado, here is the most important Japanese chart of all courtesy of Capital Economics… the CPI: Read more
“Whatever we can”, you say? Encouraging words from BoJ governor nominee Kuroda over the weekend (even if comparisons with Mr Draghi are overblown). If Cullen Roche is correct, what happens in Japan over the next year or many could change the future of economic policy. So it’s worth spending a bit more time on what Kuroda’s “can” might actually be.
We’ve argued already that much of the low-hanging fruit of expectations and verbal intervention has already been plucked. Read more
Gotta love a good contrarian yen call.
As we’ve written multiple times, the yen’s recent fall been based on policy which has yet to appear, namely on expectations of Abenomics. Japanese authorities have done an excellent job of short-term monetary fear-mongering, but as Gavyn Davies put it recently there is a severe risk that the international hedge funds which have been driving the decline in the yen might come to the conclusion that the emperor has no clothes. Read more
All this has happened before and will happen again… at least, so hopes the Japanese government.
Current finance minister Taro Aso has been keen to channel the spirit of his 1930s equivalent Korekiyo Takahashi, whose polices are widely credited with pulling Japan out of the Showa Depression. It’s understandable. Read more
As was widely tipped early this week, Asian Development Bank president Haruhiko Kuroda has been nominated for Bank of Japan governor, while academic Kikuo Iwata and Hiroshi Nakaso, a BoJ official, were put forward for the two deputy governor roles.
It wasn’t a big surprise: as the FT reports, the yen briefly weakened to 92.6 from 92.4 on the news, before regaining that loss. Read more
The weaker yen hasn’t done much for Japan’s exports so far, with preliminary data out today showing another record in Japan’s trade deficit. Exports were 6.4 per cent higher, year-on-year, in January and failed to raise as much as imports (up 7.3 per cent). This brought the trade deficit to Y1.63bn.
Societe Generale say not to worry yet, however. Firstly, those figures are not seasonally-adjusted. Month-on-month seasonally-adjusted numbers show the trade deficit shrank from Y678.9bn in January from a revised Y783.8bn in December. Read more
Japanese investors are a powerful bunch in world markets. For a microcosm of this, just look at Australia; Japan plays a big role here in debt and in turn, in currency; and it’s a market that has been very attractive to foreigners of late, keeping the currency stubbornly high regardless of price changes in the country’s key exported commodities. BUT, as with everything yen at the moment, there is a serious shift going on. Read more
It’s the latest in Japanese swings and roundabouts, pushing the yen higher and JGB yields and stocks lower… What to blame? What to blame?
Japan’s Masaaki Shirakawa gave notice on Tuesday that he would be leaving his post as governor of the Japanese central bank on March 19, three weeks earlier than slated.
Can we blame Shirakawa? His departure now coincides with that of two deputy BoJ governors who would be replaced by Abe-nominations (we resisted the urge to go for ‘Abominations’; it wasn’t easy.).
If Shirakawa had stuck around he presumably would have found himself the head of an increasingly mutinous court. Read more
We have to admit we found a point made by Nomura’s Richard Koo last month a little confusing. He argued quite persuasively that deflation is simply not a serious problem for the Japanese today.
JP Morgan’s chief Japan economist Masaaki Kanno weighed in on the rather odd dichotomy in the FT on Monday, arguing that:
The key to understanding the success of Abenomics is the asymmetric response between the currency and the bond markets, which can be attributable to divergent inflation expectations. In the currency market, inflationary expectations rose among investors, mostly non-Japanese, while on the other hand the JGB market remains dominated by Japanese investors, whose inflation expectations appear more or less unchanged.
Remember how Richard Koo was saying last week that inflationary expectations are actually far more widespread in Japan these days than deflationary expectations? And people fear inflation more than deflation?
We found that idea a bit surprising (and we recommend Krugman for more on the issue) but HSBC made a good argument as to why the concentration on inflation is itself a very legitimate concern. And the idea that recent weakness in the yen might in fact reflect a fear that the BoJ/ MoF will fail to control inflation once it has been loosed (our emphasis): Read more
Are the BoJ’s newly-announced measures really that dramatic?
For all Shinzo Abe’s talk of urgency in meeting the new 2 per cent inflation target, the BoJ itself doesn’t actually expect it to happen that quickly. In the forecasts accompanying today’s statement, the BoJ has maintained the 2013 CPI forecast of 0.4 per cent made back in October — which is probably fair enough as the open-ended programme doesn’t actually start until next year — and only moved its 2014 up to 0.9 per cent from 0.8 per cent. Read more
The Nikkei rose as much as 1 per cent after the BoJ announcement, and then fell nearly as much before recovering somewhat: Read more
Abenomics: it’s as divisive as it is fun to say.
We should start this round with Adam Posen, who used to sit on the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee and penned an Abenomics op-ed in the FT on Wednesday. Read more
The ‘currency wars’ are usually a bit more abstract than this.
Just as the Japanese look to be finally weakening their stubborn yen and spur some inflation in a stagnant economy, there is a suggestion, just a suggestion mind, that a deliberate plan to scupper, or at least hinder, that plan might be afoot. Read more
Oh look, it’s the Abe effect. How exciting. From Reuters:
RTRS – BOJ TO MULL SETTING 2 PCT INFLATION TARGET AT JAN 21-22 MEETING, DOUBLE CURRENT PRICE GOAL – SOURCES
It’s the first day of dealings in the new-fangled Japan Exchange Group following the slow-motion merger of the previously unlisted Tokyo Stock Exchange and the listed Osaka Securities Exchange, slated to create the world’s third largest bourse. And the first day has proved to be un-clever, with stock number 8697 down 9.42 per cent at the close in Japan… Read more
A big hat tip to Climateer Investing for helping us catch up on a Telegraph story from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard on Japan’s latest plan to stimulate itself out of trouble.
It, by the way, neatly sums up the problem associated with taking QE to the next level which, of course, for the Japanese authorities might have been buying equities outright rather than buying in ETF index form, which they’ve already been doing for a couple of years or so…
Think about it — a central bank en route to becoming a majority holder in a country’s primary equity ETF, is nothing more than a central bank en route to becoming the market. Read more
The landslide win for the Shinzo Abe-led Liberal Democratic party in Japan at the weekend pushed the Japanese yen to its weakest level against the dollar since April 2011 (inverted chart, don’t ya know):
The third quarter was bad, but it was a revision of Q2 GDP data — from 0.1 to -0.1 per cent, seasonally adjusted and annualised — that puts Japan in official recession:
Japan’s election on December 16 is going to be a doozy.
It’s probably the first election where the role and independence of the central bank is a key issue, says Gavyn Davies. There’s also rather a lot of yen short positions that are riding, at least in part, on the outcome — IMM data out over the weekend shows net shorts have built to levels not seen since 2007. Read more
We’ve been moaning about the old stealing our jobs for quite a while but we may have been missing an obvious trick. Much like their advanced toilet habits, Japan is leading the way demographically and has come up with an alternate to our more “soylent green” approach to the problem. Read more
THE YEN IS DOOMED, don’t ya know? And, to be fair, the longer term arguments are hard to fight against but the risk of a near to medium-term yen bounce is significant. Read more
The Bank of Japan’s unprecedented joint statement with the Japanese government after the central bank’s October meeting raised eyebrows around the world. The BoJ was already widely seen as having come under increased political pressure in recent months as the country’s economy had slowed; so what did the joint statement mean?
The statement contained a couple of key declarations: “The Bank strongly expects the Government to vigorously promote measures for strengthening Japan’s growth potential”, and “The Government strongly expects the Bank to continue powerful easing as outlined in section 2 until deflation is overcome.” Read more
Well, we’re cheating a bit here as the anniversary was two days ago, but it still allows for a discussion of the “government versus the central bank” thing going on in Japan and gaining traction everywhere else. It’s been just over a year since Japan’s Ministry of Finance last threw a whole heap of yen at the US dollar — the selling started on October 31 and ended on November 4. Read more
So the Bank of Japan basically did what what was expected of it as did the yen, which gained 0.5 per cent against the dollar as traders saw massive selling of dollar-yen going through as the Bank’s decision hit the wires.
So far, so predictable. We thought UBS’ Paul Donovan summed up the BoJ’s move fairly well:
Japan saw the Bank of Japan defy government pressure to increase the asset purchase program by JPY10tn. They increased it by JPY11tn. No doubt this will be as effective as all the previous actions which have already raised the level of the BoJ balance sheet to 32% of GDP.
But the increasing pressure that is being piled on the Bank by the government is worth drawing attention to. As well as the Bank’s attempts to shift it right back to the government. Read more