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from Breakingviews:

Abenomics pulls Japan from its post-Lehman slump

By Andy Mukherjee

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policies have beaten back the Japanese economy’s post-Lehman blues. Breakingviews' Abenomics Index was at its highest level in March since September 2008. And that was before the Bank of Japan launched its bold money-printing pledge.

The index’s reading hit 94.22 in March, up from 93.77 in February, following revisions to historical data. The rise was broad-based: eight of the index’s ten components strengthened. The biggest contributor to the index’s fourth straight monthly gain was the drop in Japan’s bond yields during March. There were two weak spots: a drop in consumer prices and a slide in new housing starts.

Run the numbers: Breakingviews' Abenomics Index

The index is likely to have strengthened further following the BOJ’s surprise April 4 promise to double the monetary base in two years. The Tokyo Stock Exchange TOPIX index, one of the contributors to the index, has jumped by more than a fifth since the announcement.

from Breakingviews:

Three-digit yen no longer a one-way bet

By Andy Mukherjee
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The yen is no longer a one-way bet. The Japanese currency has slumped to 100 against the dollar for the first time in four years. That’s a 16 percent slide since Shinzo Abe’s landslide election victory in December. At the time, Breakingviews predicted his victory would herald a three-digit yen. But there are good reasons to be sceptical about a further decline.

from Breakingviews:

Ailing South Korea needs monetary remedy

By Andy Mukherjee

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

The Bank of Korea is making a big mistake by not cutting interest rates more aggressively. A weaker Japanese yen and tepid global demand are squeezing the country’s exporters from Hyundai Motor to steelmaker Posco. Though demand from China is still growing, shipments to Europe are falling, while those to the United States have stalled (See graphic).

from Global Investing:

Japan’s big-money investors still sitting tight

More on the subject of Japanese overseas investment.

As we said here and here, Japanese cash outflows to world markets have so far been limited to a trickle, almost all from retail mom-and-pop investors who like higher yields and are estimated to have 1500 trillion yen ($15.40 trillion) in savings. As for Japan's huge institutional investors -- the $730 billion mutual fund industry and $3.4 trillion life insurance sectors -- they are sitting tight.

If some are to be believed, the hype over outflows is misguided. Morgan Stanley for one reckons Japanese insurers' foreign bond buying may rise by just 2-3 percent in the next two years, amounting to $60-100 billion. Pension funds are even less likely to re-balance their portfolios given large cash flow needs, the bank said.

from Global Investing:

Show us the (Japanese) money

Where is the Japanese money? Mostly it has been heading back to home shores as we wrote here yesterday.

The assumption was that the Bank of Japan's huge money-printing campaign would push Japanese retail and institutional investors out in search of yield.  Emerging markets were expected to capture at least part of a potentially huge outflow from Japan and also benefit from rising allocations from other international funds as a result.  But almost a month after the BOJ announced its plans, the cash has not yet arrived.

from Global Investing:

Tokyo Sonata calls the tune for investors

The jury may be out on whether Messrs. Abe and Kuroda will succeed in cajoling the Japanese economy from its decades-long funk but the cash is betting they will. Domestic and foreign investors have stampeded for Tokyo equities, and Morgan Stanley has been crunching the numbers.

Since 2005, Japanese investors built up a 14 trillion yen (over $140 billion) portfolio of foreign equities. But between January-March 2013, they offloaded a third of this -- about $39 billion.  Going back to July 2012 when they first started bringing cash home, the Japanese have sold $53 billion in foreign equities, or 36 percent of equity holdings.

from Breakingviews:

Japan lifts Nomura from its lost half decade

By Peter Thal Larsen

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

Nomura has spent most of the past five years trying to break out of Japan. So it’s ironic that the investment bank’s best full-year results since 2007 were propelled by a revival at home. As with Japan’s economic renaissance, however, investors’ hopes are running ahead of reality.

from Breakingviews:

Return to glory days may elude Japan’s automakers

By Antony Currie

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

The weakening yen is good news for Japan’s automakers. The more than 20 percent drop in the currency’s value against the dollar since early October will boost profit from overseas sales - and probably market share, too. A return to the glory days of 2006, though, is likely to prove elusive.

from Breakingviews:

Japanese workers need to go back to the 1980s

By Andy Mukherjee

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

Japanese workers are hoping for a 1980s revival. If the Bank of Japan’s 2 percent inflation goal appears daunting, meeting it in two years - as promised by new chief Haruhiko Kuroda - is even more of a challenge. For the central bank to succeed, wages will have to grow faster than they have in the past two decades.

from Breakingviews:

IMF crowd should cut Japan some slack

By Christopher Swann

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

The crowds gathering for the International Monetary Fund’s spring meeting should cut Japan some slack. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies are in for a drubbing at the shindig in Washington, DC. IMF officials have been bemoaning Japan’s “risky” fiscal stimulus while the U.S. Treasury has been grumbling about the weaker yen. But Japan was right to act.

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