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« Alpha.Sources Around a Sharp Corner | Main | A Tough Acid Test in Germany »
Monday
Sep252006

Once More On The Yen ... Talk Is In Fact Cheap

Japan.jpgSome days ago I reported on how policy makers at the G8 summit in Skt Petersbourg were trying to talk up Yen in the midst of the recent weakening of the currency relative to the Dollar and Euro. The Japanese Finance Minister called the recent drop in the Yen a 'little rough' whereas others talked about how the value of the Yen simply did not reflect the fundamentals of the Japanese economy which after all is in the midst of a sustainable recovery. I obviously diagree here and I believe that the Yen's recent tumbling is very much aligned with the fundamentals of the Japanese economy; that is an economy which is having mighty difficulty escaping deflation, particularly after the CPI index was revised in August, and as such the BOJ is not going to embark on a hike any time soon.

Should we see what the markets have to say about the Yen then despite all the well thought comments from the G8 summit ...  

(From Bloomberg - bold parts are my emphasis) 

'The yen may fall to a 20-year low as individual investors in Japan join speculators on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in selling the currency.

Measured against currencies of Japan's largest trading partners, the yen is approaching its lowest value since 1985, an index prepared by the nation's central bank shows. Japanese investors last month bought more overseas bonds than ever before. Traders on the Chicago futures exchange have a $9.74 billion wager the yen will decline. 

 The currency has fallen 4.3 percent against the dollar in the past four months as a rebound in the economy faltered, suggesting the Bank of Japan won't raise interest rates again this year from 0.25 percent. The prospect that rates will remain among the lowest in the world has prompted Japanese to invest more of their $6.55 trillion in currency and deposits outside of the country.

``We could see more massive outflows,'' said Lara Rhame, a senior currency strategist at Credit Suisse Group in New York. ``It's the yield story that's driving Japanese investors abroad.''

The yen will weaken to 118 against the dollar in three months and 120 in a year, Credit Suisse predicts. Last week the yen gained 0.9 percent against the dollar to finish at 116.56 and declined compared with the euro to 149.

(...)

Back to the good-old yen carry trade ...

'U.S. and European money managers also are putting pressure on the yen by borrowing the currency at low rates and then investing in countries with higher yields, such as New Zealand and Iceland. The prospect the so-called carry trade will weaken the yen has encouraged others to bet against the currency.

Speculative short positions, or bets that the yen will fall, outnumbered long positions by 90,804 contracts on Sept. 19, up from 69,498 two weeks earlier, CME futures trading data show. Futures contracts are agreements to buy or sell a security at a specific date and price. Each contract is for 12.5 million yen.'

There is plenty more interesting points in the Bloomberg piece linked above and it is definitely worth, at least, a quick glance. As for my discourse on this it should come as little surprise for regular that this has a lot to do with the demographics of Japan. Actually demographics can explain much of what has happened in Japan the last decade. However, it seemed as if the end of ZIRP (Zero-Interest-Rate-Policy) a year ago by the BOJ, at least for a time, made people exactly forget about the fundamentals of  the Japanese economy; that is that they did not change just because the BOJ shifted course. Let me be as clear as I can possibly be; Japan is not back amongst the leaders in the global economy in the sense that the country has finally escaped deflation (deflation is still a distinct possibillity here) and Japan is not going to experience any sustainable recovery based on a surge in domestic demand as many pundits predict. Given the current population dynamics of Japan the country's relative clout in the global economy will decline and obviously relative is important here since Japan still is one of the world's biggest economies but, I am sad to say, decline it will.

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