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from Breakingviews:

Japan’s yield spike is no canary in the debt mine

By Andy Mukherjee

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

The recent spike in Japan’s bond yields is not a canary in the country’s debt mine. Though the yield on 10-year government bonds has almost doubled since the Bank of Japan announced its aggressive money-printing pledge on April 4, it’s still less than 0.9 percent. Before the 2008 financial crisis, yields were twice as high.

Falling bond prices do not reflect concern about Japan’s government debt load, which stands at 237 percent of GDP. Though spreads on credit default swaps linked to sovereign debt have crept up in recent days, they are still lower than in early April. Equity investors are equally untroubled: Thomson Reuters’ Japan Banks Index is up 22 percent since the end of March.

A more plausible explanation is that rising inflation expectations are prompting households to move some money out of low-yielding bonds into more attractive alternatives, like the stock market. The worry is that rising yields will push up Japan’s borrowing costs, eventually causing the country’s debt to spiral out of control.

from Breakingviews:

Dan Loeb‘s breakup plan deserves Sony’s ear

By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Dan Loeb is taking Japan’s economic renaissance at face value: the hedge fund manager wants Sony to spin off its entertainment arm. Though activists rarely prevail in Japan, Loeb’s idea may have merits. The electronics giant should take him seriously.

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.

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.

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