Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 24th February 2014
Archive for the 'Japan' Category
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 2nd October 2013
October 2 (Dow Jones) — A Bank of Japan survey showed Wednesday that consumer sentiment worsened for the first time in three quarters as a rise in energy prices amid a lack of major wage increases negatively affected their views on the economy. The central bank’s survey of the general public showed that the diffusion index measuring the current state of the economy fell to minus 8.3 from minus 4.8. Of the poll of 2,252 consumers, 83% of respondents said they expect the prices of goods and services to rise over the coming year. That’s higher than 80.2% in the previous June survey. The survey also showed that 16.2% of the respondents see the economy improving in coming year, down from the previous 24.3%.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 19th September 2013
Not helping US domestic demand…
By Andy Sharp & Toru Fujioka
September 19 (Bloomberg) — Japan’s exports rose the most since 2010 in August, boosting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s growth drive even as rising energy costs extended the streak of trade deficits to the longest since 1980.
Exports rose 14.7 percent from a year earlier, the sixth straight advance, a Finance Ministry report showed in Tokyo, in line with the median estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. The trade gap was 960.3 billion yen ($9.8 billion).
A surge in exports to the U.S., along with a rebound in shipments to China in the wake of bilateral tensions last year, are offering momentum to Japan as it prepares for the first sales-tax increase since 1997. Rising competitiveness from the yen’s 20 percent drop against the dollar the past year also has helped manufacturers including Panasonic Corp. (6752) as they cope with higher energy costs with the nation’s nuclear industry shuttered.
“We are finally seeing a clear recovery in exports, led by a weak yen and a moderate global recovery,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute Co. in Tokyo. “My biggest concern is the planned sales-tax increase next year. A recovery in exports will help cushion the impact but a higher levy could still be a big drag on the economy, while risks remain in Europe and emerging markets.”
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 23rd July 2013
By Dhara Ranasinghe
July 22 (Bloomberg) — If Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, riding high on Sunday’s election victory for his ruling coalition, is serious about transforming the economy, it’s crucial that he pushes ahead with plans to raise a controversial consumption tax, analysts say.
The tax on goods and services, under the current law, is due to rise to 8 percent next April from 5 percent and to 10 percent in 2015, although there has been a heated debated within the government as to whether this should happen.
On the one hand a consumption tax is seen as a key measure to improving Japan’s fiscal health. Japan, the world’s third biggest economy, has a debt pile that is the highest among industrialized nations and its debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to top 245 percent this year.
But on the other hand, the tax could hurt consumer spending and stifle the economic recovery Abe is trying to engineer through a mix of fiscal spending and aggressive monetary stimulus.
“The decision on whether to raise the sales tax as early as next April is a finely balanced one with significant implications – both for the economy and for the perceived credibility of Abenomics,” said Nicholas Spiro, managing director at Spiro Sovereign Strategy.
“The last consumption tax increase in Japan ended in disaster, helping trigger a recession. Yet if Mr Abe puts it off, doubts about the fiscal credibility of his project will grow, potentially spooking the bond market,” he added
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 3rd July 2013
Very yen friendly!
By Jacob Adelman & Yuji Okada
July 3 (Bloomberg) — A countdown is starting in Japan for restarting some of the 48 nuclear reactors that were idled after the 2011 Fukushima meltdowns caused the worst atomic accident since Chernobyl.
The nation’s Nuclear Regulation Authority will receive applications for switching on plants starting July 8, and more than five utilities plan to seek permits. Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the wrecked Dai-Ichi plant that spread radiation in the Fukushima area, said yesterday it will seek permission to start its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant as soon as possible. Its shares jumped 19 percent yesterday.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 28th June 2013
JAPAN’S NISHIMURA-STRONG GROWTH MEASURES NEEDED SO JAPAN CAN WITHSTAND FISCAL CONSOLIDATION
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 6th June 2013
I see nothing ‘expansionary’ here:
JAPAN GOVT TOP PANEL: MUST AIM TO KEEP PRIMARY BUDGET BALANCE TARGETS TO FIX PUBLIC FINANCES
JAPAN GOVT PANEL: FISCAL REFORM IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR ‘ABENOMICS’ TO HAVE SUSTAINED EFFECTS
JAPAN GOVT PANEL: MONETARY EASING MUST BE BACKED BY GOVT’S FISCAL DISCIPLINE TO AVOID CONCERN ON MONETISATION
JAPAN GOVT PANEL: AIMS TO CREATE FAVOURABLE CYCLE OF ECONOMIC REVIVAL AND FISCAL REFORM
JAPAN GOVT PANEL: UPTREND IN CONSUMER PRICES WILL STRENGTHEN GRADUALLY FROM MIDDLE OF THIS YEAR
JAPAN GOVT PANEL: WILL KEEP CLOSE WATCH ON IMPACT FROM RISE IN IMPORT PRICES AND FINANCIAL MKT MOVEMENTS AND RESPOND APPROPRIATELY
JAPAN GOVT PANEL: MUST PAY ATTENTION TO GLOBAL ECONOMY, FINANCIAL MKT AND RESTRICTION ON POWER SUPPLY AS RISKS TO ECONOMY
JAPAN GOVT PANEL: WILL REVISE FISCAL SPENDING INCLUDING AREA OF SOCIAL SECURITY
TOKYO, June 6 (Reuters) – Japan aims to stick to its targets for fiscal consolidation to curb its massive public debt, the government’s top macroeconomic policy panel said on Thursday, despite concerns that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might back pedal on the promises.
The previous Democratic Party-led government had set targets of halving its primary deficit – the budget excluding new bond sales and debt servicing – by March 2016 and returning to surplus by March 2021.
The Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy (CEFP) also said Japan aims to lower the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio in a stable manner after achieving the primary balance target.
Japan’s public debt is already more than twice the size of its 500 trillion yen ($5 trillion) economy and any sign that the government was backing off on the fiscal reform targets or on its plan to double the five percent sales tax by October 2015 could make the Japanese government bond market nervous.
Abe, who took office last December after his Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) big election win, has made his “Abenomics” prescription for rescuing the economy from deflation and engineering sustainable growth his top priority.
CEFP has legal authority to craft long-term fiscal and macroeconomic policies, and it issues policy guidelines around this time of the year, which will be reflected in an annual budget and other key policies.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 31st May 2013
Unfortunately what Japan risks is an exit from headline deflation but no growth in output and employment to show for it. What they’ve done might be to cause the currency to depreciate about 25% via ‘portfolio shifting’, which may not expand real domestic demand. In fact, in real terms, it may go down, leaving them with higher prices and a lower standard of living.
Yes, the currency shift makes imports more expensive, which means there will be some substitution to domestic goods which cost more than imports used to cost, but less than they now cost. But for many imports there are no substitutions, so the price increase simply functions like a tax increase.
And yes, exports, particularly nominal, will go up some, but so does the cost of inputs imported. And yes, some inputs sourced elsewhere will instead be sourced locally, adding to domestic employment and output, but not to real domestic consumption.
At the macro level what counts is what they do with regards to keeping the govt deficit large enough to accommodate the need to pay taxes and net save. Net exports ‘work’ by reducing real terms of trade when the govt purchases fx, which adds net yen to their economy. I call the fx purchases ‘off balance sheet deficit spending’. But so far the govt at least says they aren’t even doing that, and the lifers etc. now deny having done much of that either?
What has changed fundamentally is they are importing more energy since shutting down their nukes. Again, this functions as a tax on their economy (taxonomy for short? really bad pun intended!).
On the other hand, as above, buying fx by either the private or public sector is, functionally, deficit spending, which in this case first supports exports, but could add some to aggregate demand, depending on the details of relevant propensities to consume, etc.
The entire point of all this is Japan can cause some ‘inflation’ as nominal prices are nudged up by the currency depreciation, but with only a modest increase in real output via an increase in net exports that fades if not supported by ongoing fx purchases. And all in the context of declining real terms of trade as the same amount of labor buy fewer imports, etc. which is the engine that makes it ‘work’ on paper.
And for the global economy it’s another deflationary shock in a deflationary race to the bottom as other wanna be exporters compete with Japan’s massive cut in real wages.
So yes, they are trying to cause inflation, but not for inflation’s sake, but as a way to increase output and employment. But I’m afraid what they are missing that the causation doesn’t work in that direction.
In conclusion, this was the thought I was trying to flesh out:
Just because increasing output can cause inflation, it doesn’t mean increasing inflation causes real output and employment to increase.
sorry, this all needs a lot more organizing. Will redo later.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 28th May 2013
More of: “In the land of the blind the one eyed man gets his good eye poked out…”
Operationally, the BOJ, monopoly supplier of yen reserves, can peg long rates just as easily as short rates.
If they back off on fiscal they’re right back where they started from, as QE is a bit of a tax hike, but for the most part just a placebo.
And lighting up the nukes likely puts trade back in surplus, firming the yen again, with the lifers who sold JGB’s for foreign bonds and foreign currency exposure/got short yen adding a bit of excitement when they try to cover.
Not to mention the China slowdown.
And none of this helps US demand any.
Tokyo Panel Urges Abe to Tighten Finances
May 27 (WSJ) —TOKYO—Following last week’s brief jump in Japanese government bond yields that helped precipitate a sudden slide in Tokyo stocks, an advisory panel to Japan’s finance minister published a report Monday urging the government to undertake serious fiscal reform to avoid further rises in yields.
“Fiscal reconstruction has become all the more important” because of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s aggressive monetary and fiscal stimulus measures, the report said, while warning that a loss of fiscal rectitude could send bond yields higher and undermine the efforts of the Bank of Japan 8301.JA -1.43%to stimulate the economy.
The report comes after the central bank launched an aggressive bond-buying program in April. The BOJ’s change in stance initially pushed bond yields down. But uncertainty over the impact of buying on such a huge scale—up to 70% of newly issued debt—saw yields bounce back up.
As the country’s currency, the yen, broke above 100 to the dollar earlier this month for the first time in more than four years, bond yields climbed along with equity prices. When they hit 1% on May 23, a level not seen in more than a year, the equity market’s upward march halted.
The panel’s chairman, Tokyo University Prof. Hiroshi Yoshikawa, declined to say how last week’s financial turmoil may have influenced the panel’s conclusion in the report. But Mr. Yoshikawa didn’t mince his words, as he warned against any attempt by the Abe administration to push back painful reforms, such as planned tax hikes and fiscal consolidation.
“Any attempt to go ahead with more fiscal stimulus would be a contravention of the spirit of this report,” he told a news conference.
Mr. Abe’s administration came into office in late December, amid an economic slowdown in Europe and China. Pledging to lift the Japanese economy out of decadeslong stagnation, Mr. Abe’s government has launched aggressive monetary easing and fiscal stimulus measures, a policy program popularly known as Abenomics.
The report argued, however, that “such unusual policy measures cannot be continued indefinitely.”
“Unless the government moves ahead with and makes progress in fiscal consolidation, the BOJ’s policy could be viewed as an act of debt financing by the central bank, causing bond yields to rise, and canceling out the effects of its monetary easing,” it said.
The report also noted that a rise in bond yields would also complicate the task of the exiting the so-called quantitative easing program down the line. Under a newly introduced inflation target, the BOJ is obliged to achieve 2% price growth, and the bank has said it would keep its aggressive easing in place until it secures that target.
The report said that “even if the BOJ wants to reduce its government bond purchases, it won’t be able to do so unless there are alternative buyers of bonds in the market.” Without private sector buyers, long-term interest rates could go up far beyond levels in line with economic growth rates, the report warned.
The Abe administration is expected to make clear its fiscal reform goals next month.
The report urged the government to produce a credible and concrete fiscal reform road map that would include specific numerical targets, rather than just expressing a strong determination.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 29th April 2013
This is my overall view of the economy.
The US was on the move by Q4 last year. A housing and cars (and student loans) driven expansion was happening, with slowing transfer payments and rising tax revenues bringing the deficit down as the automatic stabilizers were doing their countercyclical thing that would eventually reverse the growth. But that could take years. Look at it this way. Someone making 50,000 per year borrowed 150,000 to buy a house. The loan created the deposit that paid for the house. The seller of the house got that much new income, with a bit going to pay taxes and the rest there to be spent. Maybe a bit of furniture etc. was bought on credit as well, again adding income and (gross) financial assets to the recipients of the borrowers spending. And increasing sales added employment as well as output, albeit not enough to keep up with population growth etc.
I was very hopeful. Back in November, after the ‘Obama is a socialist’ sell off, I wrote that it was time to buy stocks and go play golf for three years, as, left alone, the credit accelerator in progress could go on for a long time.
But it wasn’t left along. Only a few weeks later the cliff drama began to intensify, with lots of fear of going over the ‘full cliff’. While that didn’t happen, we did go over about 1/3 cliff when both sides let the FICA reduction expire, thus removing some $170 billion from 2013, along with strong prospects of an $85 billion (annualized) sequester at quarter end. This moved me ‘to the sidelines’. Seemed to me taking that many dollars out of the economy was a serious enough negative for me to get out of the way.
But the Jan and then Feb numbers showed I was wrong, and that the consumer had continued to grow his spending as before via housing and cars, etc. Even the cliff constrained -.1 GDP of Q4 was soon revised up to .4. Stocks kept moving up and bonds moved higher in yield, even as the sequester kicked in, with the market view being the FICA hike fears were bogus and same for the sequester fears. Balancing the budget and getting the govt out of the way does indeed work to support the private sector. The UK, Eurozone, and Japan were exceptions. Austerity inherently does work. And markets were discounting all that, as it’s what market participants believed and the data supported.
Then, it all changed. April releases of March numbers showed not only suddenly weak March numbers, but Jan and Feb numbers revised lower as well. The slope of things post FICA hike went from positive to negative all at once. The FICA hike did seem to have an effect after all. And with the sequesters kicking in April 1, the prospects for Q2 were/are looking worse by the day.
My fear is that the FICA hikes and sequesters didn’t just take 1.5% of GDP ‘off the top’ as forecasters suggest, leaving future gains from the domestic credit expansion there to add to GDP as they had been. That is, the mainstream forecasts are saying when someone’s paycheck goes down by $100 per month from the FICA hike, or loses his job from the sequester, he slows his spending, but he still borrows to buy a car and/or a house as if nothing bad had happened, and so GDP is reduced by approximately the amount of the tax hikes and spending cuts, with a bit of adjustment for the ‘savings multipliers’. I say he may not borrow to buy the house or the car. Which both removes general spending and also slows the credit accelerator, shifting the always pro cyclical private sector from forward to reverse. And the ‘new’ negative data slopes have me concerned it’s already happening. Before the sequesters kicked in.
Looking at Japan, theory and evidence tells me the lesson is that lower interest rates require higher govt deficits for the same level of output and employment. More specifically, it looks to me like 0 rates may require 7-8% or even higher deficits for desired levels of output and employment vs maybe 3-4% deficits when the central bank sets rates at maybe 5% or so, etc. And US history could now be telling much the same.
And another lesson from Japan we should have learned long ago is that QE is a tax that does nothing good for output or employment and is, if anything, ‘deflationary’ via the same interest income channels we have here. Note that the $90 billion of profits the Fed turned over to the tsy would have been earned in the economy if the Fed hadn’t purchased any securities. So, as always in the past, watch for Japan’s QE to again ‘fail’ to add to output, employment, or inflation. However, their increased deficit spending, if and when it materialize, will support output, employment, and prices as it’s done in the past.
Oil and gasoline prices are down some, which is dollar friendly and consumer friendly, but only back to sort of ‘neutral’ levels from elevated ‘problematic’ levels And there is risk that the Saudis decide to cut price for long enough to put the kibosh on the likes of North Dakota’s and other higher priced crude, wiping out the value of that investment and ending the output and employment and currency support from those sources. No way to tell what they may be up to.
So my overall view is negative, with serious deflationary risks looming.
And the solution is still fiscal- a tax cut and/or spending increase.
However, that seems further away then ever, as the President is now moving towards an additional 1.8 trillion of deficit reduction.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 22nd April 2013
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 16th April 2013
Bad for US banks if they are coming to compete in the US market again.
This will cut into net interest margins.
By Monami Yui & Emi Urabe
April 16 (Bloomberg) — Shizuoka Bank Ltd. (8355) joined Japanese national lenders in expanding U.S. dollar finance activity, anticipating monetary easing will crush margins on yen loans.
The nations second-biggest regional bank by market value raised $500 million in zero-coupon notes due 2018, the first public sale of dollar-denominated convertible bonds by a Japanese company since 2002. The average interest rate on long- term yen loans from the countrys lenders fell to 0.942 percent in February, compared with 3.348 percent companies worldwide pay on dollar facilities, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. plans to increase energy and utility financing in the U.S., as the Bank of Japan (8301)s focus on cutting long-term borrowing costs undercuts earnings from yen loans, President Nobuyuki Hirano said. Sumitomo Mitsui (8316) Financial Group Inc. aims to sell a record amount of dollar bonds this year for overseas business, even as the BOJ policy seeks to spur domestic lending to revive the economy.
You know its a big deal when a conservative lender like Shizuoka Bank does this, a sure sign that yen debt is just not cutting it anymore, said Nozomi Kokubun, a Tokyo-based analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. Dollar-denominated loans are attractive for banks because they offer a spread you simply wont find in Japan.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abes call to boost fiscal and monetary stimulus hasnt been enough to spark corporate demand for loans, leaving Japans banks with a record amount of excess cash. Customer deposits held by Japanese lenders exceeded loans by 176.3 trillion yen ($1.8 trillion) in March, central bank data show.
The BOJ decided on April 4 to double monthly bond buying to 7.5 trillion yen and lengthened the average maturity of the purchases by twofold to about seven years. The central banks previous program under Governor Masaaki Shirakawa focused on notes maturing in one to three years.
The announcement sent Japans benchmark 10-year bond yield to a record low of 0.315 percent the following day. The rate surged to almost double that level in the same session and traded 6 1/2 basis points lower at 0.575 percent as of 2:20 p.m. in Tokyo today.
This round of monetary easing is without precedent and we must prepare for the interest rates to fall even further, Mitsubishi UFJs Hirano said in an interview on April 8. The decline in yen-denominated interest rates is weighing heavily on earnings from capital.
The average interest rate on long-term loans from Japans six so-called city banks, which include Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui and Mizuho Financial Group Inc., dropped below 1 percent for the first time in January and was 1.01 percent in February, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The rate for regional banks was 1.097 percent, after matching a record low of 1.075 percent in December, the data show.
Elsewhere in Japans credit markets, Nissan Motor Co. plans to price about 60 billion yen of five- and seven-year bonds later this week, according to a person familiar with the matter. The automaker is marketing 50 billion yen of the shorter-term notes at 16 to 21 basis points more than government debt and the remainder at an 18 to 24 basis point spread, the person said, asking not to be name because the terms arent set. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.
Seven & I Holdings Co. plans to raise 60 billion yen split between three-, six- and 10-year bonds, marketing all tranches at a yield spread of 10 to 14 basis points, a separate person familiar with the matter said yesterday. The operator of 7- Eleven convenience stores last sold debt in June 2010, offering 80 billion yen of seven- and 10-year debt, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
A Ministry of Finance sale of about 2.5 trillion yen of five-year notes today attracted bids valued at 3.09 times the amount available, showing the weakest demand since December 2011, according to ministry data. The gap between the average and low prices at the auction was 0.05, the widest since June 2008, another sign of low demand.
Shizuoka Banks offering is the first sale of convertible notes by a Japanese company in the U.S. currency since Orix Corp.s May 2002 offering, according to Hiromitsu Umehara, a Tokyo-based general manager in its banking department. The lender, headquartered in Shizuoka Prefecture west of Tokyo, home to Suzuki Motor Corp. and Yamaha Corp., will use the proceeds to fund dollar offerings to its mostly Japanese clients seeking to expand overseas, Umehara said.
Domestic loan demand should gradually improve, but at this moment company spending remains at a low level, said Shigeki Makita, deputy general manager at Shizuoka Banks corporate planning department. Higher interest rates on dollar loans make overseas facilities more profitable than domestic lending, he said.
Japans corporate bonds have handed investors a 0.56 percent return this year, compared with a 1.43 percent gain for the nations sovereign notes, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data. Company debt worldwide has climbed 1.54 percent.
The yen traded at 97.41 per dollar at 2:30 p.m. in Tokyo today, after falling to a four-year low of 99.95 last week. The currency has plunged 10 percent this year, the worst performance among the 10 developed-market currencies tracked by the Bloomberg Correlation Weighted Indexes.
The cost to insure Japans sovereign notes for five years against nonpayment was at 71 basis points yesterday, after reaching 78 earlier this month, the highest since Jan. 23, according to data provider CMA, which is owned by McGraw-Hill Cos. and compiles prices quoted by dealers in the privately negotiated market. A drop in the credit-default swaps signals improving perceptions of creditworthiness.
Japanese regional lenders and megabanks alike are very keen on opportunities for dollar financing, SMBC Nikkos Kokubun said. They dont even have to use the proceeds for lending and may just accumulate overseas securities.
Sumitomo Mitsuis lending unit targets two issuances that could total as much as $4.5 billion, matching last years amount as the most in the companys 11-year history, President Koichi Miyata said in a Dec. 19 interview. The two sales would range from $1 billion to $3 billion each, he said.
The bank raised 2.15 trillion yen from dollar bond sales this year, making it the third-largest Japanese borrower in the currency after Mitsubishi UFJ with 2.25 trillion yen, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Toyota Motor Corp. led the rankings with 3.193 trillion yen, the data show.
Mitsubishi UFJ is looking to buy a regional bank on the west coast of the U.S., President Hirano said. The Tokyo-based lender acquired San Francisco-based UnionBanCal Corp. in 2008 and Santa Barbara, California-based Pacific Capital Bancorp last year as persistent deflation inhibits loan demand at home.
The balance of outstanding loans at Japanese banks rose 0.6 percent to 404.8 trillion yen in March, the highest level since April 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Lending by city banks climbed to 199.1 trillion yen in the period, 3.7 percent short of the level three years ago, the data show.
Theres been great demand for dollar funding among Japanese banks as they increase lending overseas, said Chikako Horiuchi, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Fitch Ratings Ltd. The trend is likely to continue.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 8th April 2013
Not that the presumptions will turn out to be right, but just based on the presumptions:
The presumption is that the BOJ’s action will weaken the currency, stocks are up due to the weaker yen, which is presumed to support exports and restrain imports, and help with earnings translations
So the presumed increase in exports/higher stocks is not about total global sales/profits increasing. The presumed increase in exports is just about Japan gaining market share.
Which means the same presumptions lead to the further presumption that the equity gains in Japan from increased exports are at the expense of the ‘rest of world’s’ sales/profits/equity valuations/etc.
In other words, the equity rally in Japan is not based on the presumption that Japan will be an ‘engine of growth’ for the rest of world. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 4th April 2013
After two decades of this, how can anyone believe it makes any difference???
By Dhara Ranasinghe
April 4 (CNBC) — The Bank of Japan (BOJ) on Thursday embarked on an aggressive monetary policy to end years of deflation in the world’s third largest economy, moving its target when setting policy to base money from the current overnight call rate.
The central bank concluded a two-day policy meeting, the first under new Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, with a statement that it would pursue quantitative easing as long as it needed to achieve its 2 percent inflation target.
The BOJ said it would double its holdings of long-term government bonds and exchange-traded funds and purchase Japanese government bonds (JGBs) off all maturities.
It also plans to bring forward the timing of open-ended asset purchases and said it was likely to buy 7 trillion yen in long-term JGBs a month.
Markets welcomed the BOJ’s moves, with the benchmark Nikkei stock index reversing its losses to nudge into positive territory. The yen weakened to about 94.22 per dollar, having traded around 93.50 just before the decision.
Japanese shares have surged since mid-November and the Nikkei on Wednesday enjoyed its biggest one-day rise in two months on expectations for aggressive monetary easing.
Those expectations have also knocked the yen down about 16 percent against the dollar since mid-November, although the currency had risen in recent days on some caution as to whether Kuroda would be able to build a consensus among the nine members of the BOJ policy board for an unorthodox monetary policy.
Significantly then, the BOJ said its decisions were made unanimously.
Japan has suffered from persistent deflation and has slipped in and out of recession in recent years.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose ruling Liberal Democratic Party returned to power following elections in December, has pledged to revive the Japanese economy and pushing for a much bolder monetary policy than the BOJ has pursued in the past is part of his plan.
Kuroda has pledged to do whatever it takes to achieve the 2 percent inflation target, adopted by the central bank in January, within two years.
There is some skepticism among economists as to whether the target can be achieved. Jesper Koll, head of Japanese equity research at JPMorgan Securities, believes it can be.
“You’ve got credit growth, you’ve got demand for credit and you will find that within 15 to 18 months, consumer price inflation in Japan will be well in excess of 1 percent,” he said.
Latest data shows that Japan’s core consumer prices fell 0.3 percent in February from a year earlier.
Kuroda will hold a news conference later in the day. The BOJ meets again on April 26.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 21st March 2013
Debt to GDP over 200%
0 rates for decades
Alarmingly low term structure of rates
Recent yen weakness looking ‘fundamental’ as trade goes negative maybe until nukes are restarted and ‘replacement’ gas and oil imports go back to where they were.
Trade going negative after initial yen weakening due to ‘j curve’ effect where initially actual quantities of imports stay pretty much the same but prices are higher. Only some time later do quantities respond to the higher price.
Full size image
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 5th March 2013
Cooler Heads: The Rebuttal to Kyle Bass’s Japan Market Meltdown Scenario from JPMorgan’s Jesper Koll and Masaaki Kanno
By Stephen Harner
At 24 times central government tax revenues, cumulative Japanese government debt has reached a level which ensures financial collapse.
Not, just a reserve drain.
With the Abe/Aso government setting a 2% inflation target, the collapse will occur sooner—probably within the next 18 to 24 months.
Not, inflation targets are meaningless. Inflation expectations theory is a myth.
The revelation will be that interest on the debt—currently 25% of national tax revenue—will double under higher interest rates.
Could be. But deficits generally come down as well during an expansion, of course posing a risk to that expansion, etc.
The result will be massive JGB selling, a collapsing yen, and systematic financial crisis resulting from a collapse in yen asset prices.
Yes, when rates go up bond prices go down. There are both winners and losers when/if prices change.
Rising interest rates would of course raise debt service costs for all borrowers, and especially the hugely indebted government. But they would enable lenders–including household depositors–to charge higher rates on new debt and raise returns on non-fixed rate debt. Since net stock of private savings is larger than the net stock of public sector liabilities, Koll reckons that the overall effect on the economy would be positive.
Agreed! Rate hikes are expansionary, cuts contractionary due to interest income channels.
Rising interest rates would not spell large losses for Japanese financial institutions because these institutions’ bond–and especially JGB–portfolios are largely held to maturity, avoiding the requirement to be marked to market. The institutions would have no incentive to sell, and ample incentive to hold the JGBs [the weighted average duration of which they have in any event been shortening to well under five years--Harner].
They represent at least lost income, and if implied costs of funds rise implied losses. Etc. Again, winners and losers with change.
As to who is or would buy JGBs, the answer for the present and foreseeable near term future is: the Bank of Japan. BOJ is already committed to buying the entire debt out to a maturity of three years and a new governing board to be installed in April may extend the range to three to five years. Interest rates will rise only as much as BOJ will allow. This is why foreigners and domestic institutions are still buying the bonds.
Note that functionally the BOJ buying is the same as the MOF not issuing.
Whether or not significant inflation develops in Japan depends on productivity. Significant increases in productivity could fully mitigate inflationary pressures.
I’d guess most ‘inflation’ comes through the ‘cost channels’ as low aggregate demand tends to keep ‘monetary inflation’ in check.
There is plenty of room in Japan’s economy for raising productivity. Agriculture, in particular, has abysmal productivity that could easily be raised through deregulation. Land policy that affects housing is another. Health care is another. Indeed, deregulation is needed throughout the economy. “The Abe administration must implement real deregulation, so that private investors put their savings and capital to work, by building new factories, new hospitals, and so forth.” [This is a point I emphasized in my post a week ago on Abe’s “Three Arrows” program.--Harner]
Deregulation could be deflationary as suggested.
The proposed BOJ policies won’t do anything, the fiscal could move the needle some. And relighting the nukes will firm the yen.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 4th March 2013
The only measures that would work have been left out:
> MORE: Kuroda Says BOJ Easing Isn’t Aimed at Weakening the Yen
> *KURODA: DIFFICULT FOR BOJ TO BUY FOREIGN BONDS
> *KURODA: LAW STATES CURRENCY INTERVENTION NOT BOJ’S JOB
> *KURODA: FOREX INTERVENTION IS FINANCE MINISTRY’S RESPONSIBILITY
> *KURODA: CURRENCY RATE SHOULD BE DETERMINED BY MARKET
> *KURODA SAYS BOJ EASING ISN’T AIMED AT WEAKENING THE YEN
>*MORE: Kuroda to Consider Every Possible Measure to End Deflation
>*MORE: Kuroda Says More Easing Needed in Both Quality, Quantity
>*MORE: Kuroda Says Need to Consider Effects of Buying Risk Assets
>*MORE: Kuroda Says Up to Govt Whether BOJ Law Needs to Change
>*MORE: Kuroda Says BOJ Easing Isn’t Aimed at Weakening the Yen
>*MORE: Kuroda Vows ‘Even Bolder’ Steps to Approach 2% Target
>*KURODA: DIFFICULT FOR BOJ TO BUY FOREIGN BONDS
>*KURODA WILL TAKE EVERY POSSIBLE MEASURE UNTIL 2% TARGET IS MET
>*KURODA: BOJ’S JOB IS TO KEEP FINANCIAL SYSTEM, PRICES STABLE
>*KURODA WILL CONSIDER EVERY POSSIBLE MEASURE TO END DEFLATION
>*KURODA NOT CONSIDERING WHAT HE’D DO IF BOJ FAILS TO MEET TARGET
>*KURODA: STABLE CURRENCY IS GOVT’S RESPONSIBILITY
>*KURODA: LAW STATES CURRENCY INTERVENTION NOT BOJ’S JOB
>*KURODA: FOREX INTERVENTION IS FINANCE MINISTRY’S RESPONSIBILITY
>*KURODA SAYS INFLATION EXPECTATIONS CAN BOOST IMPACT OF EASING
>*KURODA SAYS MONETARY EASING TENDS TO WEAKEN OWN CURRENCY
>*KURODA SAYS MORE EASING NEEDED IN BOTH QUALITY AND QUANTITY
>*KURODA SAYS MID-TERM ECONOMIC GROWTH STRATEGY NEEDED
>*KURODA SAYS 2% TARGET IS WAY TO LIMIT INFLATION, BEAT DEFLATION
>*KURODA: NO PLAN TO FINANCE GOVERNMENT IF BECOME BOJ GOVERNOR
>*KURODA SAYS JUST EXPANDING MONETARY BASE WON’T BE EFFECTIVE
>*KURODA: BOLDER EASING COULD HAVE AVOIDED YEARS OF DEFLATION
>*KURODA WILL CONSIDER STARTING OPEN-ENDED ASSET BUYS EARLIER
>*KURODA: CURRENCY RATE SHOULD BE DETERMINED BY MARKET
>*KURODA: BOJ SHOULD BUY LONGER-TERM BONDS
>*KURODA: NO NEED TO LIMIT BOJ BOND BUYS TO 3 YEAR MATURITIES
>*KURODA: NEED BALANCED GROWTH FOR SUSTAINABLE ECONOMY
>*KURODA: SPECIFIC POLICIES TO BE DECIDED AT BOJ MEETINGS
>*KURODA: WIDE VARIETY OF ASSET PURCHASES SHOULD BE CONSIDERED
>*KURODA: MORE PURCHASES OF ASSETS NEEDED
>*KURODA: MORE EASING NEEDED TO BEAT DEFLATION
>*KURODA: EXISTING POLICIES NOT ENOUGH TO BEAT DEFLATION
>*KURODA: HAD DOUBTS OVER BOJ’S EXIT FROM EASING IN 2006
>*KURODA: END OF ZERO INTEREST RATE POLICY IN 2000 WAS A MISTAKE
>*KURODA SAYS BOJ SHOULD REGRET LACK OF COMMUNICATION WITH GOVT
>*KURODA: BOJ SHOULD NOT MONETIZE GOVT DEBT OR BUY BONDS DIRECTLY
>*KURODA SAYS HE KNOWS BERNANKE, DRAGHI AND BOE’S KING WELL
>*KURODA: WILL DO UTMOST VS DEFLATION EVEN IF BOJ LAW IS CHANGED
>*KURODA: MUST CONSIDER EASING EXIT, BUT DEFLATION IS MAIN ISSUE
>*KURODA SAYS MONETARY POLICY NOT DECIDED BY BOJ GOVERNOR ALONE
>*KURODA VOWS EVEN BOLDER MONETARY STEPS TO APPROACH 2% TARGET
>*KURODA SAYS ENDING 15 YEARS OF DEFLATION WON’T BE EASY
>*KURODA: MEETING INFLATION TARGET IN 2 YEARS IS GLOBAL STANDARD
>*KURODA: WOULD BE GOOD TO ACHIEVE 2% TARGET WITHIN TWO YEARS
>*KURODA WILL DECIDE POLICIES IN LINE WITH ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS
>*KURODA: NATURAL TO BUY LONGER TERM BONDS
>*KURODA: NEED TO CONSIDER EFFECTS OF BUYING RISK ASSETS
>*KURODA: VARIOUS WAYS TO ACHIEVE 2 PERCENT INFLATION
>*KURODA AIMS TO ACHIEVE 2 PERCENT INFLATION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
>*KURODA SAYS NO COUNTRY AIMS TO ACHIEVE 2% INFLATION EVERY MONTH
>*KURODA SAYS BOJ IS RESPONSIBLE FOR STABLE PRICES
>*KURODA SAYS BOJ SHOULD NOT STEP INTO MONETIZATION
>*KURODA: UP TO GOVT WHETHER BOJ LAW NEEDS TO CHANGE
>*KURODA: UP TO GOVT WHETHER BOJ LAW NEEDS TO CHANGE
>*KURODA SAYS WAGE GROWTH NEEDED TO END DEFLATION
>*KURODA SAYS WAGE GROWTH NEEDED TO END DEFLATION
>*KURODA WILL COOPERATE CLOSELY WITH GOVERNMENT
>*KURODA SAYS WAGES AND EMPLOYMENT CRUCIAL FOR ENDING DEFLATION
>*KURODA SAYS BOJ INDEPENDENCE IS SECURED BY LAW
>*KURODA SAYS 2% INFLATION TARGET WON’T HARM BOJ INDEPENDENCE
>*KURODA SAYS BOJ INDEPENDENCE IS SECURED BY LAW
>*KURODA CONFIDENT THAT BOJ CAN MEET INFLATION TARGET
>*KURODA SAYS WON’T BE EASY TO MEET INFLATION TARGET
>*KURODA SAYS ACHIEVING INFLATION TARGET IS BOJ’S JOB
>*KURODA SAYS 2% INFLATION TARGET IS GLOBAL STANDARD
>*KURODA SAYS ACHIEVING INFLATION TARGET IS BOJ’S JOB
>*KURODA SAYS POSSIBLE TO ACHIEVE INFLATION TARGET
>*KURODA SAYS ENDING DEFLATION GOOD FOR GLOBAL ECONOMY
>*KURODA SAYS CAN’T DENY MONETARY POLICY AFFECTS CURRENCY MARKET
>*KURODA SAYS BOJ EASING ISN’T AIMED AT WEAKENING THE YEN
>*KURODA SAYS CAN’T DENY MONETARY POLICY AFFECTS CURRENCY MARKET
>*KURODA SEES POSSIBLE EFFECT ON YEN AMID BOJ EASING
>*KURODA SAYS BOJ’S PRIORITY IS CONQUERING DEFLATION
>*KURODA SAYS BOJ EASING ISN’T AIMED AT WEAKENING THE YEN
>*KURODA SAYS ABE’S ECONOMIC PLANS ARE RIGHT APPROACH
>*KURODA SAYS HE HAS WIDE INTERNATIONAL NETWORK
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 20th February 2013
The usual excellent post!
Positive Currency Wars!
19 February 2013
Financial markets are today being buffeted about by a slew of highly complex and changing influences. As readers may recall, at end-January (Thaler’s Corner 31/01: Too Cloudy), we advised people to favor Risk Off positions (references 2725 Euro Stoxx and 141.85 Bund), but this morning we returned to a neutralization of asset allocation biases (references 2635 and 142.85).
Not only do European markets seem to have lagged too far behind their American and Japanese peers, but, above all, I consider the current jitters about currency wars to be completely off the wall!
That said, there are still dark clouds hovering over Europe, mainly the eurozone, which is why we have yet to join the clan of the optimists.
Let us examine the macroeconomic situation area-by-area.
The Fed is pursuing its easy money policies, the target QE, and I do not see them ending these policies any time soon. Despite the prevailing conventional wisdom, these policies are not boosting inflation at all, quite the contrary!
By continuously removing treasuries and MBS from the private sector via its QE asset-purchasing program and by replacing them with base money reserves, the Fed is in reality absorbing the interest that the private sector would have received on these bonds, as base money does not pay a coupon! The best illustration of the absorption carried out by the government is the amount of profits earned and transferred to the Treasury, a total of €335 billion since 2009!
This QE program functions like a tax, or more specifically, a savings tax somewhat like the French ISF or wealth tax (except that it is not at all progressive). It is nonetheless “progressive” in that it has helped the federal government, among others.
The 0% interest rate policy is certainly supposed to help reignite the American economy by making its easier for investment projects to achieve profitability, but at a time when the private sector feels overloaded with debt (deleveraging), its “inflationist” aspect is limited to the value of financial assets.
As long as US government budget policy remains frankly expansionist, with cumulative deficits totaling over $5 trillion since 2009, this deflationist aspect of the QE has little importance. However, not only have US budget deficits been trending downwards since 2009 (at a record high of $1.415 trillion), falling from 10.4% to 6.7% of GDP, but the latest budget measures raise concerns that the trend will accelerate.
In the first place, the hike in the payroll tax has had a direct impact on the American consumer. This 2% decrease in take-home income, for which employees were hardly prepared, led Wal-Mart Vice President Jerry Murray to declare February sales figures to be a “total disaster”:
“In case you haven’t seen a sales report these days, February MTD (month-to-date) sales are a total disaster. The worst start to a month I have seen in my seven years with the company. Where are all the customers? And where’s their money?”
Moreover, if sequester negotiations between Congress and the White House do not lead to a deal by the beginning of March, the ensuing decline in spending would represent about 1% of GDP and thus a new tightening of budget policy.
In contrast, the real estate market continues to give encouraging signs of a rebound. I will provide you the stats fresh February 22nd publication date.
The yen’s decline (currency wars) is a positive factor, which I will examine in the conclusion.
The eurozone is the world’s weakest economic zone, with the economic outlook as desperate as ever. The zone is suffering from an unfortunate mix of pro-cyclical budgetary policies and monetary policy, which refuses to use all the means available to counter recessive austerity.
Aside from their crazy devotion to Ricardian theories, supporters of “expansionist austerity” do not seem to take into account that the rare examples of such policies being successful are with very open small economies who, boasting their own currency, devalue their money and cut interest rates while defaulting on or restructuring foreign debt!
As for the distressed eurozone countries, which mainly trade with their neighbors, they not only lack their own currency and thus the possibility of devaluation, but also, in addition, suffer from a euro that remains high compared to the currencies of its trading partners!
And that’s leaving aside monetary policy and how its non-transmission to peripheral countries is making their economies even worse.
In addition, there are the problems specific to the zone, as exemplified by the Cypriot turmoil, the Italian elections, the protest movements in Spain and Portugal and the painful establishment of a common banking solution, etc.
But a ray of hope may be on the horizon, with the restructuring plan of the Promissory Notes just established by Ireland. Without going into the highly technical details, you can believe me when I say that this is the closest thing to fiscal financing ever carried out by a central bank on the eurozone or even in a developed country!
Quite simply, the Irish state has issued very long-term bonds, at very low interest rates, directly into the capital of the restructured bank, which then refinances it with the Irish central bank. The state thus skirts appealing to markets; this is monetary financing, albeit indirectly so. In any case, it would have had a hard time raising capital on such good terms with the public.
And Mario Draghi’s apparent nod to this operation, limiting himself to stating the ECB board had unanimous taken note of the deal, augurs well! We will not be surprized to hear the screams of alarm from Mr Weidmann and the Bundesbank, but they seem to have definitely lost control.
In short, while the euro’s rise is a drag on European exporters in the short term, reflecting more far more restrictive monetary and budgetary policies than those of our trading partners, this is also a case of the tree hiding the forest, as I will explain in the case of the Land of the Rising Sun.
This is where things are really going to play out!
The latest comments by Japanese government officials suggest that the next BoJ President will not only be a lot more dovish than his predecessors but that he will also work much more closely with the government.
Such coordination is absolutely necessary in times of deflation when the country has been faced with 0 Lower Bound for so many years. Check out the excellent paper written by Paul McCulley and Zoltan Pozsar on this topic in MG.
If a country in the midst of severe deflation/recession, like Japan, whose trade balance has deteriorated so abruptly since 2011, does not have the right to use all the tools at its disposal to pull itself out of this quagmire, who does?
I would farther than the prevailing discourse, with its focus on Japanese-style quantitative easing, and say flat out that the country should electronically print money!
Screams of a Weimer situation aside, such an approach would technically change little, since it would amount to injecting the budget deficit into the economy in the form of Monetary Financing instead of JGBs (Bonds Financing), which are nearly identical to cash (floor rate and possibility of going through the repo market).
In contrast, one thing is for sure: the fears generated by such an announcement would be enough to send the yen back to 110 vis-à-vis the dollar, which is in no way catastrophic. Bear in mind that this parity averaged 118.40 between the two shocks of 1987 and 2008!
These jitters would also fuel inflationist expectations, which is precisely the goal of a country in which the latest statistics show the economy stuck in deflation.
But the main reason I say that such a monetary and budgetary turnabout by Japan would be good for the rest of the world is that one of its main goals is to reignite domestic consumption, a natural corollary of easier monetary conditions and higher inflationist expectations.
And that would also benefit its foreign trading partners!
We are not witnessing so much a race to competitive devaluation (currency wars) as a race to more accommodative monetary policies, under the impulsion of the Fed and the BoJ, not to mention the BoE and the SNB, among others.
And all this will end up influencing the ECB, which, if it does not change its policies, will end up with a euro climbing toward 140 against the yen and 1.45 against the dollar. Let’s not forget that in 2007-2008, the euro was trading at 170 against the yen and 1.60 against the dollar, mainly due to the ECB’s intransigence, with the results we all know.
As Mr Draghi has declared that he will take the euro’s level into consideration, not as a target, but as a variable in monetary policy, we can only hope that it will continue to appreciate and thus force our central banks to carry out its own Copernican revolution and enter into concertation with the world’s central banks managing modern currencies.
In conclusion, thanks to these monetary hopes stemming from the Japanese initiatives, I have decided to put between parentheses the still heavy clouds, cited above, and advise clients this morning to abandon the Risk Off bias to capture profits offered by the last market shifts and to, at minimum, put ourselves in a position of maximum reactivity.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 20th February 2013
The old J curve as previously discussed.
By James Mayger and Andy Sharp
Feb 20 (Bloomberg) — (Bloomberg) Japan’s trade deficit swelled to a record 1.63 trillion yen ($17.4 billion) on energy imports and a weaker yen, highlighting one cost of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policies that are driving down the currency.
Exports climbed 6.4 percent in January from a year earlier, the first rise in eight months, exceeding the median 5.6 percent estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 24 economists. Imports increased 7.3 percent, the Finance Ministry said in Tokyo today.
Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 8th February 2013
> (email exchange)
> On Thu, Feb 7, 2013 at 1:06 PM, wrote:
> There was an almost sensible article by Samuelson in the WP today. What caught my eye
> was this comment that claims Japan failed at using Keynsian over the years. Can you
> clarify this:
> Here is the comment:
The problem is that economists have not recognized the failure of Keynsian economics. I think the uniform failure of deficit spending to promote growth has to be recognized.
They just didn’t run large enough deficits.
If the model worked, we would not be talking about Japan’s lost decade, or more accurately lost generation. Japan’s debt is now over 200 percent of GDP.
Their growth rate in response to an ocean of deficits is uniformly poor.
Because they aren’t large enough to cover their savings desires.
The story is similar in Europe, particularly Southern Europe. There is no way Uncle Sam can continue to borrow 40 cents of every dollar spent.
When governments get this far behind, they usually pay off the debt with hyper inflation.
This never ends well. The usual outcome is social disintegration followed by dictatorship. For example, the hyper inflation of Weimar Germany after WWI lead to Hitler.
That was due to deficits of 50% of GDP to sell marks for fx and gold to pay war reparations. Any other examples???
The Federal Reserve’s constant quantitative easing in search of economic growth is going to lead to increasing inflation and interest rates.
Japan’s been doing it for over 20 years and still has no inflation and a strong currency.
They are buying 70 percent of the debt the Federal Governments incurs this month. Once Once interest rates go up, the deficits will balloon, 160 billion dollars a year for each percentage point.
We have got to cut spending and stop the coming train wreck.
What train wreck? The train wreck is the current state of affairs from a deficit that’s too small.
Note that every move towards deficit reduction in Japan made things worse, and every supplementary budget made things better. they just haven’t ever done enough
> Its a typical RW comment, but what am I missing. How can you keep stating Japan did this
> wrong for the other reason?