Kuroda’s team best for market: ex-banker


Incoming Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda and his two deputies are the “right people” to lead the Bank of Japan because of their ability to convey the central bank’s intentions to investors, a former BOJ official said.

“These are the right people, the appropriate people, for these important posts,” said Tetsuya Inoue, who was associate director general of the BOJ’s international finance branch until November 2008 and is now chief researcher for financial markets at Nomura Research Institute Ltd. in Tokyo. “Dialogue with the market will be better, well-designed. That will be a big difference” from the bank under Masaaki Shirakawa.

The yen has fallen 18 percent against the dollar in the past six months on expectations that the next BOJ leadership will carry out additional easing. Shirakawa stepped down Tuesday, with Kuroda taking over Wednesday. Kuroda has pledged to do whatever is needed to end 15 years of deflation, and has expressed confidence a 2 percent inflation target is achievable.

The incoming chief and his deputies, Kikuo Iwata and Hiroshi Nakaso, won’t rush to add stimulus before the regularly scheduled policy meeting on April 4 because they need time to discuss their options with the rest of the Policy Board, Inoue said. That doesn’t necessarily mean disappointing investors.

“They could send a message in their initial press conferences this week,” he said. “They can hint at the policy tools they’re discussing.”

Inoue expects the BOJ to buy larger amounts of government debt and extend purchases to bonds with longer maturities, pushing down rates at the far end of the so-called yield curve.

The central bank currently buys government bonds with maturities as long as three years, as well as exchange-traded funds, real-estate investment trusts and other risks assets, through an asset purchase program targeted to reach ¥76 trillion ($796 billion) by the end of this year.

Japan’s government debt returned 1.7 percent this year, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch indexes. The yen traded at 95.53 per dollar from 95.21.

Minutes released March 12 from the BOJ’s February policy meeting showed some members said options for easing include buying longer-term bonds or more risk assets.

A few members said the bank might have to consider combining bond purchases with the “rinban” money-market operations, the minutes showed. That would have the added benefit of making policy more transparent, according to Inoue.

“Simplifying the message is very important,” he said.

Inoue believes achieving 2 percent inflation will be very difficult, and that the danger of hyper-inflation and a rapid drop in the yen are very low.

“The most probable outcome is less than 2 percent inflation, but the Japanese economy stabilizes,” he said. Such an outcome should be considered a success, Inoue said.