• Bloomberg


The Bank of Japan could boost its monetary stimulus to address any surge in the yen triggered by the Greek crisis, though any fallout from Europe will probably be limited, said an aide to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“The yen may appreciate as it’s considered as a safe-haven currency, but even if that happens, the BOJ can respond by expanding stimulus further,” Koichi Hamada said in an interview in Tokyo on Monday. Hamada notes that the yen may in fact weaken because the U.S. is moving to tighten its monetary policy.

The government and Bank of Japan have played down the threat of turmoil spilling over to Japan, noting that direct economic links with Greece are limited. The yen returned to around levels it traded at before the vote in Greece, after gaining about 1 percent in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s referendum.

The BOJ can also tighten monetary policy if the yen weakens too much, although the gap between supply and demand indicates change from the central bank is not warranted for now, said Hamada, 79, an emeritus economics professor at Yale University.

“It’s not so much Japan factors that are moving the currency, as the yen-dollar rate is more affected by U.S. factors,” he said.

“It’s unlikely that the Greece crisis will seriously damage Japan’s economy or change BOJ’s price outlook.”

Whatever the impact of the Greek debt talks, the BOJ remains distant from its 2 percent inflation target. With prices weighed down by the plunge in oil prices, the BOJ’s preferred price gauge rose 0.1 percent in May.

Only 2 of 32 economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect prices to reach the target in the period the bank has forecast, according to a poll last month. The BOJ says that core consumer prices will rise to 2 percent in around the six months through September 2016.

This is not a reason for further easing, Hamada said.

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