BOJ to up loan facility by ¥1 trillion

Bloomberg

The Bank of Japan is expected to expand a low-interest lending facility for industries, with a decision possible as soon as next month, sources familiar with the central bank’s discussions said.

The program established by previous Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa in 2010 may be boosted by about ¥1 trillion from the current ¥5.5 trillion, according to the sources, who asked not be named because the discussions were private.

The facility may be extended by at least one year from its planned expiry in March, the sources said.

The expansion would show support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to boost growth while indicating that current BOJ Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda hasn’t dispensed with all of his predecessor’s initiatives. The bank is forecast to hold monetary policy unchanged at a two-day meeting starting Thursday.

The facility is nearing its ceiling, with about ¥4 trillion dispersed so far. About ¥3.2 trillion in loans has been made in the ¥3.5 trillion main component of the program.

Banks get loans at an interest rate of 0.1 percent under the program that is similar to the Bank of England’s “Funding for Lending” plan. They use that money to lend to industries from environmental technology to tourism and disaster prevention that are seen by the BOJ as having growth potential.

Total bank lending rose 2.4 percent in November, the most since June 2009, BOJ data show. Even so, deposits exceeded loans by ¥184.5 trillion, close to a record ¥189.1 trillion in June, indicating that financial institutions could lend more.

The BOJ and the government pledged in a joint statement in January to strengthen policy coordination. The accord says the BOJ should aim for price stability while the government is responsible for strengthening competitiveness and the nation’s growth potential.