A Bank of Japan policy review due in March is likely to result in tweaks, rather than any big changes, though more flexibility in the bank’s buying of equities is seen as a likely adjustment, according to economists.
About two-thirds of 44 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg said the assessment will yield no more than fine-tuning. Some 11% expect more drastic changes, while another 23% said the results are hard to predict.
BOJ Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda has a history of delivering surprises, so investors have been left guessing about what the policy assessment announced last month will deliver, if anything.
While Kuroda made it clear the bank is not considering any pullback on easing, he flagged the buying of exchange-traded funds and the mechanics of its yield-curve management as areas needing review.
Some 83% of analysts in the survey said the BOJ is likely or very likely to adopt a more flexible stance on its ETF purchases.
The bank in November became the biggest single owner of Japanese equities and criticism is mounting that it is needlessly propping up a stock market trading around a 30-year high, while complicating any future normalization of policy.
"The BOJ will probably adjust its buying in a way that can’t be seen as a retreat from monetary easing, considering the ETF purchases can fuel too much bullish market sentiment,” said Shinichiro Kobayashi, chief economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Research & Consulting.
The survey showed very little consensus about other measures the BOJ might introduce or change, but almost half the analysts said they expect the BOJ’s review to result in some new program to support Japan’s growth.
One creative step the BOJ could consider is paying interest to banks that lend to projects aimed at helping the economy become greener or more digitalized, former BOJ executive director Eiji Maeda said in a interview this week.
About half of the economists said they expect no major changes to the bank’s yield-curve-control program, though some 20% said the BOJ will signal a desire for a steeper yield curve. Another 20% said the bank might announce some measure to encourage higher volumes of bond trading.
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