Business / Economy

BOJ's September meeting to be watched closely for new easing

JIJI

The next policy-setting meeting of the Bank of Japan, set to be held from Sept. 18 to 19, is the subject of heightened attention as observers anticipate fresh monetary-easing after the yen’s recent spike against other major currencies.

The yen’s appreciation, which has been attributed to monetary easing by central banks, including in emerging economies, has fueled concerns about earnings at Japanese companies and raised the possibility of pre-emptive easing by the BOJ.

At the BOJ’s previous two-day monetary policy meeting in July, Policy Board members expressed some positive views about additional easing.

“The effects of the scheduled consumption tax hike and sudden market changes warrant careful vigilance so that the bank’s monetary policy will not fall behind the curve,” said one policymaker, according to a summary of opinions released by the BOJ.

The BOJ “will not hesitate to take additional easing measures if there is a greater possibility that the momentum toward achieving the price stability target will be lost,” the central bank said in a statement after the meeting.

Speaking to a news conference after the meeting, BOJ Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda said, “We’re more positive about (further) monetary easing than before.”

Concerns over a global economic slowdown grew again this month in global financial markets after U.S. President Donald Trump announced additional punitive tariffs on Chinese imports. The move prompted a sell-off in stock prices, and caused the dollar to drop to levels close to ¥105 due to safe-haven buying of the Japanese currency.

Next month, the European Central Bank will hold a policy meeting on Sept. 12, with market participants predicting that it will further lower its negative interest rates.

Speculation is growing of an additional interest rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve when the Federal Open Market Committee meets from Sept. 17 to 18, after the central bank issued its first rate cut in over 10 years at the July FOMC meeting and stirred a global easing trend.

If the ECB and the Fed decide to carry out further easing and the BOJ stops short of taking any fresh measures, such as increased exchange-traded fund purchases or a further expansion of its negative interest rate policy, the yen may strengthen further.

The BOJ will face a tough decision on its next move, as there are also significant concerns about side effects from further easing measures under its already ultraeasy monetary policy, analysts said.