IMF Says Japan Upgrade Likely as 2014 Reforms Pushed, FT Reports

The International Monetary Fund may upgrade its growth forecast for Japan, although the nation must start fiscal and structural reforms in 2014, IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton was cited as saying in an interview in the Financial Times.

The IMF’s economic growth forecast for Japan of 1.2 percent next year will probably rise because of extra stimulus measures, the FT said, citing Lipton. The government expects gross domestic product to increase 1.4 percent, according to budget documents released Dec. 22. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in December 2012 pledging a three-pronged, or a so-called three-arrow, strategy of aggressive monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and deregulation to end 15 years of deflation.

“The first year was a year of opportunity for monetary policy and I think they hit the target and showed they were changing the trajectory for the economy,” Lipton was cited as saying. “The second year they have the opportunity to show that the second and third arrows are potent. It doesn’t mean they have to finish but they really have to start.”

The nation’s target of 2 percent inflation in about two years through the Bank of Japan’s bond-buying program had led to a weaker yen, which “the international community is supportive of,” Lipton said. The yen has lost about 18 percent of its value versus the dollar this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Japan should proceed with an increase in its consumption tax to 8 percent in April from 5 percent now and manage the impact through extra government spending, the FT cited Lipton as saying. The economy will probably contract an annualized 3.9 percent in the three months after the tax gain, according to the median forecast of 31 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

The government should make it easier for women to participate in the job market, which would boost growth and increase the pool of taxpayers, Lipton said. He also called on Japan to sign up to the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.