Trump Win May Give Kuroda Breathing Room

Trump May Be a 'Shot in the Arm' for Japan, EU: Choukeir

Donald Trump’s election win has given Governor Haruhiko Kuroda room to breathe by easing concerns that the yen will strengthen, a former Bank of Japan executive says.

The BOJ can remain on hold unless the yen strengthens past 100 against the dollar, a possibility that is "pretty much gone" following Trump’s victory, Hideo Hayakawa said in an interview Thursday.

“An early spring has come to the BOJ,” he said.

Hayakawa’s comments add to the views that Kuroda will keep policy unchanged for the rest of his term through April 2018, unless he faces some shock. The yen dropped to an almost six-month low this week, which should help corporate profits, raise import prices and may boost inflation as well.

Former BOJ board member Sayuri Shirai and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have said more easing is unlikely before Kuroda’s term ends, and the share of economists who don’t expect any additional stimulus rose to 35 percent ahead of this month’s policy meeting, according to a Bloomberg survey conducted late October.

While Trump’s actual economic policies are unclear, it’s safe to say he would expand the fiscal deficit through tax cuts, said Hayakawa, who left the central bank in 2013. That will fuel inflationary pressures, trigger a rise in bond yields and strengthen the dollar, he said. “This is a bright spot for the BOJ,” although Trump’s rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal must be a headache for the government, he said.

Leaders meet

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President-elect Trump met earlier on Friday, Tokyo time, in New York. The two men had frank discussions at their first meeting, according to Abe, who told reporters that it was a "warm atmosphere" and that the new U.S. leader was "trustworthy."

Trump’s victory caused a surge in bond yields in the U.S. and other nations, and the dollar has strengthened against all major currencies except the pound. The yen traded at 110.15 against the dollar as of 9:52 a.m. in Tokyo after touching 110.35 earlier.

The BOJ isn’t so concerned about a rapid rise in Japan’s 10-year government bond yield as it remains around zero percent, Hayakawa said. The yield turned positive this week for the first time since Sept. 21.

On Thursday the BOJ fired a warning shot at the bond market, announcing its first unlimited fixed-rate purchase operation. This yielded no bids, a sign that it was more of a demonstration exercise than an intended transaction in notes.

Hayakawa praised the BOJ’s September decision to shift its target to the yield curve from increasing the monetary base, as this change made the bank’s policies more sustainable. While no additional easing is in sight, Japan’s consumer prices are likely to remain around zero percent even early next year, distant from the 2 percent inflation target, he said.

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