The Bank of Japan can double its annual pace of bond accumulation to ¥100 trillion to give fresh impetus to the economy after next month’s sales tax increase, according to an aide to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“It’s not taboo for the BOJ to double the goal of bond holdings,” Koichi Hamada, 78, a retired Yale University professor who advises Abe on monetary policy, said in a recent interview in Tokyo. “The BOJ will be concerned about the real risk of being seen as financing debt, but drastic action is justified to pull Japan’s economy out of 15 years of stagnation.”
Hamada said the central bank should add stimulus as soon as May should indicators show the 3 percentage point tax rise is seriously damaging the economy. He said annualized growth of 0.7 percent in the final quarter of 2013 showed that ” ‘Abenomics’ isn’t strong enough.”
“It would be too late if the BOJ waits for April-June GDP data” due in August, Hamada said. “I don’t doubt the BOJ’s projection that Japan’s economy will continue a moderate recovery even after the sales tax increase because Kuroda’s stance shows he can quickly and flexibly add powerful stimulus.”
Economists at BNP Paribas SA and HSBC Holdings were among 10 of 34 analysts in a Bloomberg survey who said the BOJ would need to accumulate at least ¥90 trillion of Japanese government bonds a year — equal to all new issuance and up from about ¥50 trillion now — to have the same impact as April’s easing.
BOJ Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda said in an interview last week with Jiji Press that there is “no limit” to what the BOJ could do if it needed to adjust its policy. The bank doesn’t have to “outwit” the market, he said.
The yen weakened 18 percent against the dollar last year and the benchmark Topix stock index rose 51 percent after the BOJ began unprecedented stimulus last April 4. The yen has strengthened about 4 percent this year, and the Topix has fallen more than 10 percent.
Chotaro Morita, chief rates strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., agrees with Hamada that the central bank would have to double its pace of boosting holdings to get the same punch, a move Morita said could help push the yen down to 120 per dollar.
“That simple message would help make overseas investors understand the BOJ’s resolve to achieve its price goal,” Morita said. “Weakening the yen is basically the only way that the BOJ can maintain a chance to achieve its 2 percent inflation target.”
Hamada, who has known Abe since 2001, has been traveling regularly to Japan from his Connecticut home to advise the prime minister on matters including the selection of the central bank governor.