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Japan Quantitative Easing – A Curious Conundrum

Interest-Rates / Quantitative Easing Oct 21, 2010 - 12:46 PM GMT

By: David_Urban

Interest-Rates

As I mentioned in the Week in Review the move last week by the Bank of Japan to cut interest rates and enact a new quantitative easing program along with the lack of moves by Indonesia and Australia coupled with the immediate rally in equity markets looks increasingly like a coordinated global intervention to push up equity prices to help Japan. 


Looking at other Asian markets there is a flood of hot money roaring through these markets like a tsunami.  For someone who was and still is bullish on the equity markets I have to take pause here.  The Thai Bhat has rallied down below a crucial support level at 30 and there are calls from the business community to help stem the appreciation in the Bhat as this is hurting FDI and exporters just as the political climate is showing signs of stabilization. 

This is more than a short-term issue and this flood of money will cause unintended consequences in 2011 as the Asian growth machine continues to lead the world out of the recession. 

Strong growth across Asia, ex-Japan, is fueling inflationary worries as increased purchasing power is driving demand in local markets.  The increased demand for products is beginning to fuel the flames of inflation.

But there is a thorn in the side of the central banks as they attempt to stomp out inflation before it takes root and that is Japan.

Continued slow economic growth in Japan is hampering efforts by other Asian central banks to stem the flow of hot money into their capital markets. 

A rise in interest rates by Asian central banks would risk creating an enormous carry trade between Japan and the other Asian countries possibly adding further to flows of hot money into Asian equity markets.

But what has me most concerned was a simple picture a few weeks ago of a young Japanese woman putting up a poster extolling the virtues of investing in JGB's.  My concern here is twofold.  First, as Japan enters into an environment where their aging population must increasingly redeem their JGB's and foreign capital markets are unlikely to chase yield in Japan the only pool left to tap is the younger generation.  By doing so this pulls money that would go into consumption or the Japanese equity markets. 

If the younger generation decides to follow in the path of their parents and buy JGB's it is unlikely that local participation in the equity markets will rise and create a new bull market in Japanese equities.  Just as well, consumption figures will remain low and if consumption does not increase then it is likely that deflation will continue well into the future. 

By David Urban

http://dcurb.wordpress.com/

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