By Jennifer Saba
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.
"Abenomics" -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's aggressive reflationary fiscal and monetary policy -- is widely praised for injecting optimism into the world's third largest economy and making Tokyo stocks the best performing equity market in the world this year.
"Abenomics" is the buzzword in Japan these days -- it refers to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's aggressive reflationary fiscal and monetary policies that triggered the yen's 10 percent decline against the dollar and 17 percent rally in Tokyo stocks this year.
(corrects name of hedge fund in para 3 to Symphony Financial Partners)
Any doubt about the importance of a weaker yen in thawing the frozen Japanese economy will have been dispelled by the Nikkei's surge to 32-month highs this week. Since early December, when it became clear an incoming Shinzo Abe administration would do its best to weaken the yen, the equity index has surged as the yen has fallen.
By George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.
Today is April Fools' Day, a rare opportunity to make fun of friends and colleagues with pranks and practical jokes. Ever ahead of the game, Goldman Sachs produced an amusing mistake yesterday making it look more than a little foolish, as many investors and rival bankers may attest.
It was a brutal and at times scary week. There are plenty of unknowns around the radiation risks tied to the Fukushima nuclear plant. But the fact remains that this nuclear crisis after the quake/tsunami shock may not deal the economy too severe a blow. If nothing else, the shock is prompting a policy response that was always lacking in Japan before: hefty fiscal spending is on the way, and the Bank of Japan has injected money into the system like never before, and via all kinds of channels. The BOJ’s response has helped to quickly stabilise funding markets and asset markets as a whole. The G7 is backing up Japan on yen intervention. Foreign institutional investors were cited in the last few days as steady buyers of Japanese equities, seeing this as an opportunity as the price-to-book on the TOPIX once again fell to a meagre 1.0 (for comparison, it is in the company of Serbia, UAE, Lebanon, Italy, Greece and Venezuela – so yes maybe cheap). From a markets point of view – a minor one in this crisis – Japan did an admirable job shoring up the markets after their were gripped by panic. Keep in mind that sharp policy responses to panics linger for a while, usually well into any recovery. Just as the Fed launched QE2 the moment the U.S. economy was picking up a head of steam, Japan may be countering an economic shock that may not be as big as feared. If so, it could be just the jolt the Japanese economy has long needed just as it was gathering momentum. All that said, the radiation risks, factory shutdowns and threat of power outages will add to the doubts about how quickly the economy will bounce back in the next few months.
By Christopher Swann and Edward Hadas
For the first time in modern stock market history, investors in U.S. equities are likely to finish a decade empty-handed. The S&P 500 Index is set to provide a negative 0.8 percent average annual total return. Even the grim 1930s did better. While share prices fell, dividends made the average total return positive, by 1 percent a year.