If you’re looking for a top-tier event to trade this week, the Bank of Japan’s monetary policy decision could be your best bet. But here are some reasons why the Japanese central bank probably won’t budge.
1. The Fed just made its move.
Remember when BOJ officials sounded hopeful that the Fed would adjust monetary policy so they won’t have to? Well, it looks like they’ve chanted, “I’m with the Force and the Force is with me” one too many times because their wish was granted and the FOMC even hinted of three more rate hikes on the horizon for 2017.
Now the very idea of a December Fed rate hike, on top of the BOJ’s plans to target the yield curve, was enough to set off a widening gap between U.S. and Japanese bond yields since September this year, but the prospect of more Fed rate hikes could dampen demand for safe-haven Treasuries and boost U.S. bond yields further against their Japanese counterparts, making these less appealing to investors.
As a result, businesses and consumers might opt to put their money elsewhere, perhaps by buying up riskier assets that offer higher returns or by spending it on the new Apple Macbook Pro. Either way, this could ensure that more moolah is circulated in the economy, keeping inflation and growth supported.
2. They’ve got the yen right where they want it.
Apart from increasing liquidity, monetary policy easing also has the side-effect of triggering currency depreciation – something that the BOJ would welcome with open arms as this shores up domestic price levels. You see, a weaker yen means that local businesses and importers would need to pay more units of the currency for raw materials or other shipments, and these higher costs are usually passed on to consumers.
At the same time, a depreciating local currency makes its exports relatively cheaper abroad, thereby making them affordable for their trading counterparts and more competitive against other countries, potentially giving export activity a much-needed boost.
It’s no secret that the Japanese economy has been struggling with deflation and declining exports for quite some time, and the BOJ’s QQE efforts have been producing feeble results. In the past, the central bank has relied heavily on its currency intervention efforts to revive inflation and trade activity, but it looks like they don’t have to pull that card out for now since the yen has been tumbling on its own.
3. Better hiring and inflation numbers.
Besides, Japanese policymakers might want to reserve their ammunition for now as the economy has actually yielded some improvements in hiring and inflation. In my latest Economic Snapshot of Japan, I’ve highlighted the gains in employment from 64.49 million to 64.55 million and the simultaneous drop in joblessness from 2.02 million to a multi-year low of 1.97 million.
Also, headline CPI accelerated with a 0.6% month-on-month rise in October after a 0.2% increase in September, reaching its best reading since April 2014 when the sales tax hike was introduced. On a year-over-year basis, headline CPI is at 0.1%, which is its first positive reading in seven months. Core CPI, on the other hand, remains far below the BOJ’s target of -0.3% to -0.1% by the end of this year so there’s still some work to be done.
In a nutshell, the BOJ would probably trust the Force and let other economic factors, such as rising U.S. bond yields and the depreciating yen, take the wheel for the time being instead of actively making significant changes to monetary policy. Don’t discount any strong moves among the yen pairs, however, as BOJ Governor Kuroda might provide more details on how the central bank plans to bend the yield curve to its will over the next few months.
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