• Bloomberg


The Bank of Japan may need to reduce the pace of its bond purchases in a few years due to a shortage of sellers, said economists at the International Monetary Fund.

There is likely to be a “minimum” level of demand for Japanese government bonds from banks, pension funds, and insurance companies due to collateral needs, asset allocation targets, and asset-liability management requirements, said IMF economists Serkan Arslanalp and Dennis Botman.

“The sustainability of the BOJ’s current pace of JGB purchases may become an issue,” they wrote in the paper released on Monday in Washington.

“The BOJ may need to taper its JGB purchases in 2017 or 2018.”

While Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda said in May that he expects no obstacles in buying government bonds, the IMF analysts join Nomura Securities Co. and BNP Paribas SA in questioning the sustainability of the unprecedented debt purchases. The BOJ could deliver continued stimulus by extending the maturity of its JGB purchases or by scaling up private asset purchases if needed, the IMF economists wrote.

“The BOJ could change its monetary base target, or move to an alternative intermediate objective, such as interest rate targeting,” the IMF paper said. “It is important to note that the BOJ is not out of options, even when limits to JGB purchases are reached.”

Kuroda expanded already-record stimulus in October, giving the bank scope to buy every new bond issued by the Ministry of Finance.

The BOJ targets to increase its bond holdings at an annual pace of ¥80 trillion ($645 billion) with its pledge to make the average remaining maturity of bond purchases about 7-10 years. The bank also buys assets linked to stocks and real estate.

The BOJ held 26.5 percent of Japanese government bonds at the end of March, the biggest single holder of JGBs, according to data from the central bank.

Six of 34 economists forecast the BOJ will taper its asset purchases next year, four see a move in 2017, while 13 forecast it will be in 2018 or later, according to a Bloomberg survey last month. The rest said tapering is unforeseeable.

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