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from Ian Bremmer:

The top 10 grudges in the G-20

The G-20 is no happy family. Comprised of 19 countries and the European Union, once the urgency of the financial crisis waned, so too did the level of collaboration among members. Unlike the cozier G-7 -- filled with likeminded nations -- the G-20 is a better representation of the true global balance of power … and the tensions therein. So where are the deepest fault lines in the G-20? 

Below is a ranking* of the 10 worst bilateral relationships in the G20. Russia is in four of the worst, while China is in three (although Russia and China’s relationship is fine). Several countries are also in two of the worst relationships: the United States (with the two belligerents mentioned above), Japan, the UK and the EU. 

1.   China–Japan

China and Japan have a historically troubled relationship, which has reached its most contentious point in decades as their dispute over territorial claims to the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands has escalated, leading to renewed geopolitical tensions and possible confrontation. When the world’s second- and third-largest economies are butting heads, it carries huge global ramifications.

2.   Russia–US

The relationship between the United States and Russia is characterized by mistrust, and the two states consistently clash on foreign policy issues, including recently on international responses to Syria’s civil war and a missile defense system in Europe, as well as on domestic issues, such as the U.S. Magnitsky Act and Russia’s response to ban American adoptions of Russians.

from Breakingviews:

BOJ chief could score early win by dumping rule

By Andy Mukherjee

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

Expectations are running high for Japan’s next monetary czar. Haruhiko Kuroda, who has been nominated by the government as the Bank of Japan’s next governor, needs to quickly demonstrate his deflation-fighting credentials. One way would be to do away with the BOJ’s self-imposed limit on how many government bonds it can hold.

from The Edgy Optimist:

I think we’re turning Japanese, I really hope so

Why the U.S. would be lucky to become Japan.

By Zachary Karabell

Over the past few years, it’s become ever more common to hear comparisons between the United States and Japan. They are not favorable. They come in the form of dark warnings that the current policies of the United States will lead to a fate similar to Japan’s over the past 20 years: stagnant growth with no end in site.

Let’s just say for the moment that the United States is becoming Japan – a nation of little to no economic growth, high public debt and a broken financial system. How bad is that? Is becoming Japan really a worst-case scenario?

from Breakingviews:

Next BOJ chief should accept monetisation

By Andy Mukherjee

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

The Bank of Japan has a morbid fear of directly financing fiscal deficits. But this “no monetisation” creed sits ill with the $1 trillion or so of public debt - roughly a fifth of the Japanese GDP and about 14 percent of the net outstanding public debt - which it has already turned into money. The next BOJ governor, who will take over when the incumbent Masaaki Shirakawa steps down on March 19, should be more realistic.

from Breakingviews:

Japan tensions rewrite China shopping lists

By Katrina Hamlin

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

China’s buying habits have taken on an air of the patriotic, at least where Japan is concerned. As tensions rose last year over who owns a group of remote islands, sales of Japanese cars and arrivals of Chinese tourists showed a marked slowdown. Even Chinese acquisitions of Japanese companies fell in the last quarter of 2012.

from Breakingviews:

G7 only adds to global currency confusion

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

The G7 has spoken about the troubled foreign exchange markets, and the world is marginally less secure for it. In Tuesday’s four-sentence statement, the finance ministers and central bankers of the world’s leading economies managed to ignore the problem of inadvertent competitive devaluations, contradict themselves and make an empty promise.

from Breakingviews:

Interview questions for the new BOJ chief

By Andy Mukherjee

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

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s war on deflation will soon have a new general. A hard-charging Bank of Japan governor with strong conviction and oodles of savvy could help bring Abe’s plan to fruition.

from MacroScope:

A statement of non-intent

The flurry of activity about a G7 currency statement yesterday can now be put in perspective. It will almost certainly happen but it’s very much going through the motions.

We’ve been saying for a while that having urged it to reflate its economy for some time, Japan’s partners could hardly complain now that it is. Lael Brainard of the U.S. Treasury basically let that cat out of the bag last night, warning against competitive devaluations but saying that Washington supported Tokyo’s efforts to reinvigorate growth and end deflation.

from Felix Salmon:

When the finance minister targets stock prices

Japan's economy has been far too stagnant for far too long: everybody can agree on that. The aging population, now used to deflation, prefers saving to spending -- an entirely reasonable stance if prices will be lower tomorrow than they are today. So the government has long been facing a very tough task: to change the psychology of a nation, basically. You can't do that -- as Japan learned the hard way -- with old-fashioned public-works spending. Instead, you have to target expectations.

The Bank of Japan started on this road last month, formally adopting a 2% inflation target. That was the BoJ's way of saying "start spending now, because your yen won't be worth as much tomorrow as they are today". And now the finance minister is doing his part to get the party started as well, in a highly unorthodox manner. In a speech on Saturday, he said that he wants to see the Japanese stock market rise 17% to 13,000 by the end of March.

from MacroScope:

Currency chatter

With the rhetoric getting more heated, the three-year market fixation on bond yields could well be supplanted by currencies in the months ahead.

This week, everything points towards the first meeting this year of G20 finance ministers and central bankers in Moscow on Friday and Saturday. We’ve already got a clear steer from sources that even though France wants the strong euro on the agenda there will be little pressure put on Japan and others whose policies are pushing their currencies lower. Having urged Tokyo to reflate its economy last year, its G20 peers can hardly complain now that it has. That is not to say there won’t be lots of words on the issue though.

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