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Japan pegs USDJPY at 200 to sort out its financial system

Strats-Hardy-88x88
John Hardy

Head of FX Strategy

Summary:  "Japan’s real GDP drops by 8 percent." - John J. Hardy.


Japan mobilised hundreds of billions of USD in its currency reserves in 2020 to defend the Bank of Japan’s (BoJ) unmoved monetary policy and the JPY itself as the BoJ refused to hike the policy rate from -0.1 percent or to lift the yield cap on 10-year Japanese government bonds at 0.25 percent. As 2022 rolls into 2023, the pressure on the JPY and the Japanese financial system mounts again on the global liquidity crisis set in motion by the vicious Fed policy tightening and higher US treasury yields.  

Initially, the BoJ and Ministry of Finance deal with the situation by slowing and then halting currency intervention after recognising the existential threat to the country’s finances after burning through more than half of central bank reserves. But as USDJPY rises through 160 and 170 and the public outcry against soaring inflation reaches fever pitch, they know that the crisis requires bold new action. With USDJPY soaring beyond 180, the government and central bank swing into motion.  

First, they declare a floor on the JPY at 200 in USDJPY, announcing that this will only be a temporary action of unknown duration to allow for a reset of the Japanese financial system. That reset includes the BoJ moving to explicitly monetise all  its debt holdings, erasing them from existence. QE with monetization is extended to further lower the burden of Japan’s public debt, but with a pre-set taper plan over the next 18 months. The move puts the public debt on course to fall to 100 percent of GDP at the end of the BoJ operations, less than half its starting point. The BoJ policy rate is then hiked to 1.00 percent and all yield-curve control is lifted, which allows the 10-year rate to jump to 2.00 percent.  

Banks are recapitalised as needed to avoid insolvency and tax incentives for repatriating the enormous Japanese savings held abroad see trillions of yen returning to Japanese shores, also as Japanese exports continue to boom. Japan’s real GDP drops by 8 percent on reduced purchasing power even as nominal GDP rises 5 percent due to cost of living increases, but the reset puts Japan back on a stable path and establishes a tempting crisis-response model for a similar crisis inevitably set to hit Europe and even the US eventually.  

Market impact: USDJPY trades to 200 but is well on its way lower by the end of the year. 

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