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Abe Aide Urges More BOJ Easing as Tax Threatens Recovery

Japanese Prime Minister Advisor Koichi Hamada
Koichi Hamada, an advisor to Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, speaks during an event in Tokyo, on Sept. 4, 2013. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

The Bank of Japan can double its annual pace of bond accumulation to 100 trillion yen ($985 billion) to give fresh impetus to the economy after next month’s sales-tax increase, said an aide to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“It’s not taboo for the BOJ to double the goal of bond holdings,” Koichi Hamada, 78, a retired Yale University professor who advises Abe on monetary policy, said in an interview yesterday in Tokyo. “The BOJ will be concerned about the real risk of being seen as financing debt, but drastic action is justified to pull Japan’s economy out of 15 years of stagnation.”

Hamada said the central bank should add stimulus as soon as May should indicators show the 3 percentage-point tax rise is seriously damaging the economy. He said annualized growth of 0.7 percent in the final quarter of 2013 showed that “Abenomics isn’t strong enough.”

“It would be too late if the BOJ waits for April-June GDP data” due in August, Hamada said. “I don’t doubt the BOJ’s projection that Japan’s economy will continue a moderate recovery even after the sales-tax increase because Kuroda’s stance shows he can quickly and flexibly add powerful stimulus.”

Economists at BNP Paribas SA and HSBC Holdings Plc. were among 10 of 34 analysts in a Bloomberg News survey who said the BOJ would need to accumulate at least 90 trillion yen of Japanese government bonds a year -- equal to all new issuance and up from about 50 trillion yen now -- to have the same impact as April’s easing.

‘No Limit’

Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said there is “no limit” to what the BOJ could do if it needed to adjust its policy, Jiji news agency reported, citing comments he made in a March 13 interview. The central bank doesn’t have to “outwit” the market, he said, according to Jiji.

The yen weakened 18 percent against the dollar last year and the benchmark Topix stocks index rose 51 percent after the BOJ began unprecedented stimulus on April 4. The yen has strengthened about 4 percent this year, trading at 101.71 at 5:41 p.m. in Tokyo, and the Topix has fallen more than 10 percent.

‘Simple Message’

Chotaro Morita, chief rates strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., agrees with Hamada that the central bank would have to double its pace of boosting holdings to get the same punch, a move Morita said could help push the yen down to 120 yen per dollar.

“That simple message would help make overseas investors understand the BOJ’s resolve to achieve its price goal,” Morita said. “Weakening the yen is basically the only way that the BOJ can maintain a chance to achieve its 2 percent inflation target.”

Hamada, who has known Abe since 2001, has been traveling regularly to Japan from his Connecticut home to advise the prime minister on matters including the selection of the central bank governor.

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