Some Bank of Japan officials say it’s likely the central bank will discuss the possible ditching of a long-held view that price risks are mainly on the downward side at a policy meeting this month, according to people familiar with the matter.
The officials are also likely to consider adjusting the bank’s growth outlook, the people said.
The central bank meets on Jan. 17 and 18, with its quarterly report on prices and growth likely to be the focus of interest.
Considering rising inflationary pressure, the BOJ board is likely to discuss if it’s still valid to say price risks are “skewed to the downside,” wording that has been used since October 2014, according to the people.
Any shift in the risk assessment of prices won’t be a signal that the BOJ is moving toward policy normalization since inflation is still far from the bank’s 2% target in stark contrast with many of its global peers, the people added.
Still, the potential shift in the risk assessment indicates at least some of the heat of global inflation is arriving in Japan. The BOJ’s index of corporate goods prices recently rose at the fastest pace in 41 years, an indication that it’s getting difficult for companies to avoid price increases.
While Japan’s key measure of consumer prices shows inflation is still only 0.5%, if the impact of sharply cut cellphone fees is factored out, the price index did increase 2% in November from a year earlier, according to a Bloomberg calculation.
Still, Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda said last month that inflation won’t be sustainable without wage growth, a key economic challenge Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged to address as he urged big businesses Wednesday to boost worker pay this year.
Taking into account a worse-than-expected shrinking of the economy in the third quarter and prolonged supply bottlenecks, the BOJ’s current growth outlook of 3.4% for the current year ending in March will probably be downgraded, the people said.
With Kishida’s economic package and an expected pickup in consumer spending and production, the growth projection for fiscal 2022 starting in April is likely to be upgraded from 2.9%, according to the people.
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