BOJ's New Communication Tool Gives Little Clue for Future Policy

  • Central bank releases summary of opinions at December meeting
  • Kuroda edits opinions of board members, who aren't identified

The Bank of Japan released its first summary of opinions from a board meeting Friday, providing an outline of what was discussed at the Dec. 17-18 gathering while giving little new guidance on the future course of monetary policy.

Governor Haruhiko Kuroda edited a summary of opinions presented by the BOJ’s nine board members -- who aren’t identified with their opinions -- and by government representatives. The six-page document was laid out in bullet points divided by discussion topics.

The BOJ is seeking to improve its communications as it reduces the number of policy meetings in 2016 to eight from 14 last year, putting it in step with other central bank boards including the Federal Open Market Committee in the U.S. The document released Friday included various opinions from the meeting, without indicating how many board members agreed or disagreed.

“You can’t really figure out how internal thinking is evolving without knowing how many people and how intensely something was discussed,” said Koya Miyamae, an economist at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. “We can grasp what was discussed, but not really the future course of monetary policy.”

Inflation Trend

One bullet in the summary said: “The underlying trend in inflation has continued to improve and is likely to keep doing so.” Another said: “Since crude oil prices have declined to a larger extent than projected, there is a risk of the pace of increase in the consumer price index for all items less fresh food moderating further.”

The summary release was the first to provide details of discussions at a BOJ policy meeting before the next meeting is held. Previously, the BOJ released minutes of a policy meeting only after the next one was held. Kuroda said on Dec. 18 that he would edit about 300 characters of summary of opinions submitted by board members.

The BOJ will continue to release the minutes of board meetings with indications of how many people supported one argument without identifying them. The minutes of the December meeting will be released on Feb. 3.

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