Is the BOJ Considering Stealth Intervention Overseas?

After launching at least four currency interventions since September last year, is the Bank of Japan (BOJ) now thinking outside the box and looking for other ways to intervene in the markets?

A couple of days ago I wrote about how Japan’s Ministry of Finance (MoF) has been implementing “stealth interventions,” or selling the yen in smaller but still significant volumes without necessarily informing the public.

Now, word around the forex hood is that for the past two weeks, the BOJ has been conducting phone interviews and handing out questionnaires to Tokyo’s financial institutions. Apparently, the central bank is interested to see if the overseas branches of these institutions can take trade orders from the BOJ.

Take note, the BOJ has intervened in the currency market at least four times since September 2010 by actively buying the yen. But since the yen pairs are now back to critical levels where it might threaten Japan’s exports, many market players believe that the BOJ’s surveys are signs that the central bank is considering launching currency interventions from overseas.

BOJ stealth intervention

The beauty of convincing these financial institutions to agree to take its orders is that it would allow the BOJ to be a lot more creative. In the past, the BOJ would use the EBS trading platform, which allows market players to see the central bank’s orders, therefore diluting any surprises that the BOJ may want to elicit.

By going through different banks’ overseas branches, it will allow the central bank to implement stealth interventions, while also allowing them to intervene during the London and New York trading sessions. Some believe that this could be a more effective way of keeping the yen below specific levels, as it could catch other market players off-guard.

On the other hand, the form by which the BOJ has been executing this plan is a little bit suspicious. The central bank has been sending out these questionnaires via EMAIL. If you thought that video about kids and their chocolate was viral, you can only imagine what a bunch of traders would do with an email from the BOJ!

Some believe that this is just one way for the central bank to do some jawboning and get everyone on board for more intervention. The BOJ understands that no matter how many billions they throw at the market, it would take a massive, coordinated effort to see dent in the yen’s trading value. Getting major financial institutions to take its orders without alerting the market would be a major score for the BOJ.

For now, it would be best to keep a close eye out for any news that would confirm an intervention. Oh, and don’t forget to check out recent blog post for the three other things you should consider before trading the yen pairs!