- BOJ’s Kuroda Threatens More Easing, Stocks Tank, Absurdity Reigns
by Wolf Richter, http://wolfstreet.com/
“Negative interest expense” or some such absurdity yet to be coined.
“For now, the effect of negative interest rates is very strong, so we’d like to steadily proceed with this policy,” Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda told parliament today, to reassure the nervous politicians that the economy was on the right track under his fearless and wise leadership.
Alas, the BOJ’s “tankan” survey, released on Friday, showed that confidence plunged among manufacturers to the lowest point since 2013, while inflation expectations weakened further. The economy in the January-March quarter is likely to shrink again, after having already shrunk in the prior quarter, to form another technical recession. Despite government and BOJ exhortations, wage increases remain elusive, now an imperceptibly small 0.4% from a year ago.
But just in case the BOJ’s scorched-earth policies of negative interest rates and asset purchases – mostly Japanese Government Bonds, Japanese REITs, and equity ETFs – haven’t accomplished the desired miracles yet, the BOJ would be willing to accelerate the same failed policies, such as pushing interest rates deeper into the negative, and try some new things too, such as diving into riskier assets, he said.
One thing is clear: While the BOJ has failed in propping up stocks, it has totally succeeded in suffocating the once vast Japanese Government Bond market by buying up every JGB that isn’t nailed down. It’s a marvel, actually. The BOJ’s primary dealers buy the JGBs when the government issues them at a negative yield, knowing that they will soon sell them to the BOJ at an even greater negative yield and thus make a guaranteed profit on the difference.
The 10-year JGB yield is -0.07%. Pension funds, insurance companies, banks, and money managers have begun to unload their JGB holdings. Only he BOJ is buying.
It seems that the BOJ will not stop until it owns most of the JGBs out there. It’s paying the government the negative yield, actually paying the government to borrow money to fund its gargantuan deficits. If this farce continues long enough and more of the older JGBs are rolled over, interest expense in the Japanese budget will turn to income, called “negative interest expense” or some such absurdity yet to be coined. Someday this is going to end in tears. But not tomorrow. Kuroda knows this, hoping that the “after tomorrow” won’t be under his watch. After me the deluge!
All 11 Japanese asset managers that offer money market funds are planning to scuttle them after returning their remaining assets to investors. This marks another big accomplishment of negative interest rates. And the bitter irony? Read… NIRP Kills Off All Money Market Funds in Japan