After over a decade-and-a-half of aggressive monetary easing through asset purchases, the Bank of Japan still has to revise down its inflation projections just about every six months, almost like clockwork.
Delaying its first rate hike in nearly a decade after taking a pass in June and July means the U.S. central bank may have stepped further away from an escape from zero rates and $3.7 trillion of asset purchases bloating its balance sheet.
The Japanese yen has strengthened unexpectedly by about 4 percent over the last month and it could rise further if the U.S. Federal Reserve delays a rate hike and the dollar weakens.
The biggest attention grabber out of Japan is today’s 7.7% moonshot on the stock market, based on hopes of further central bank stimulus in Asia as well as an expected corporation tax cut over the next few years. Never mind that this comes just one day after the Nikkei joined many other major global stock indexes in wiping out its gains for the year.
While few people have had serious hopes for a prolonged Japanese economic boom for a long time, the range of forecasts provided for Japan’s recent economic performance gives you an idea of just how wildly unexpected the news was today that it is back in recession.
The Bank of England will produce its quarterly inflation report today. With wage growth still notable by its absence and inflation dropping to just 1.2 percent in September, noises from within the BoE suggest the timing of a first interest rate rise is heading further over the horizon.
To most people, the idea of falling prices sounds like a good thing. But it poses serious economic and financial risks – just ask the Japanese, who only now finally have the upper hand in a 20-year battle to drag their economy out of deflation.
The last seven days has been a glaring example of fallout from the cross-border carry trade. That’s the sort of trade, well known in currency markets, where investors borrow funds in low-rate countries and invest them in higher-rate ones. Some $4 trillion is estimated to have flooded into emerging markets since the 2008 financial crisis to profit off the ultra accommodate policies of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Bank of Japan, European Central Bank and the Bank of England. Now that central banks in developed economies are looking to reverse course and eventually raise rates, that carry trade is unraveling fast, resulting in the brutal sell-off in emerging markets such as Turkey and Argentina over the last week.