Here’s some so-called “breaking news” in the world of finance: the Bank of Japan has decided to “ease monetary policy” – as though it could get any easier than it has been in Japan for two decades (via Yahoo Finance):
“Japan’s central bank has decided to ease monetary policy amid a strong yen and growing political pressure to take action on the faltering economic recovery.The decision came during an emergency board meeting called by Bank of Japan Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa.
To boost liquidity, the central bank will expand a low-interest loan program for financial institutions to 30 trillion yen ($354.7 billion) from 20 trillion yen.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
TOKYO (AP) — The Bank of Japan is holding an emergency meeting Monday as political pressure mounts for the central bank to ease monetary policy in the face of a surging yen.
In a statement on its website, the bank said the meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. in Tokyo (0000 GMT; 8 p.m. EDT Sunday). The bank had been expected to convene Sept. 6 at a scheduled two-day policy board meeting.
The news sent Japanese stocks soaring. The Nikkei 225 stock average finished the morning session up 3.1 percent at 9,265.39.
The Japanese government has not intervened in foreign exchange markets since 2004, but Japan’s export-driven economy faces growing uncertainty due to a strong yen and slowing global growth. The yen hit a fresh 15-year high versus the dollar last week.
Sustained strength in the yen is toxic to vital exporters such as Toyota Motor Corp. and Sony Corp. because it erodes their international profits and makes their goods less competitive abroad — which could undermine the country’s shaky recovery. In the April-June quarter, Japan lost its place to China as the world’s No. 2 economy after posting annualized growth of just 0.4 percent.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Friday made his strongest comments so far on the yen’s recent spike. He told reporters that Japan would take “decisive action” when necessary against excessive foreign exchange volatility. He is meeting with Bank of Japan Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa this week. Kan’s staff is working on new stimulus measures, and an outline will be decided Tuesday.
Expectations have been growing that Japan’s monetary authorities will do something to stem the yen’s rise, particularly after new government figures last week showed that the country’s export growth lost momentum in July. Japanese leaders held an emergency meeting but emerged with few hints of an immediate response.
Analysts have said the central bank will most likely decide to boost liquidity by expanding a short-term low-interest loan program for financial institutions.”
This is a curious move and has to make one wonder what global central bankers are seeing that others aren’t seeing. The BOJ knows as well as anyone that they’ve been “easing monetary policy” for 20 years and it has had little to no impact. Nonetheless, they’re restocking the shelves with more apples as Richard Koo often says. In other words, this will be a non-event for the actual global economy, but is certain to get asset markets all riled up and excited for at least a few hours.
Markets seem to like the news at first blush. The Nikkei is up 1.5% as I type, US equity futures are up 0.5%.
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.