- Lyle Stafford/Reuters
The Japanese yen is on fire.
The currency surged for the fifth-straight day on Thursday, strengthening by as much as 1.7% to 107.92 against the dollar.
That’s the strongest level since October 19, 2014 – right before the Bank of Japan shocked the markets by boosting its quantitative-easing program.
The yen is now up about 10% vs. the dollar in 2016.
Thursday’s surge followed comments from the Bank of Japan’s (BoJ) governor, Haruhiko Kuroda, who suggested that the central bank could ease policy even further if needed.
Generally speaking, a weaker currency helps Japan’s exporters and corporate profits. So, some economists argue that a surging yen is bad for business.
Moreover, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said later on Thursday that “We’re watching the foreign exchange market with a sense of tension,” adding that “the government believes excessive and disorderly movements in the exchange rate have a negative effect.”
- Credit Suisse
Despite all of that, analysts don’t think the BoJ will intervene this time around given the imminent G7 meeting next month.
“With Japan hosting the next key G7 meeting on 26-27 May, we doubt that politically challenging intervention is likely at this stage, especially if USDJPY’s decline is slow and steady and the Nikkei avoids a disastrous meltdown,” a Credit Suisse research team led by Shahab Jalinoos argued in a note on April 6.
“The summit is the focal point of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s diplomatic strategy for the year and intervention to weaken the yen would destroy any chance he has of G7 leadership,” explained the Financial Times’ Robin Harding and Claire Jones.
For what it’s worth, Abe told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that countries should avoid competitively devaluing their currencies.
As an end note, the Credit Suisse team also cited other tricky political concerns.
“We suspect at a sensitive time ahead of the US presidential election in November, and with the recently agreed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal still far from being passed by Congress, Japan will not want to risk becoming a candidate for official inclusion in the US Treasury’s FX manipulation report,” they wrote.
“Indeed, aside from brief periods in the post-2008 period, the type of ‘line in the sand’ strategy that was employed in the early 2000s has not been a feature of Japanese currency policy in recent years,” they added.
The yen is stronger by 1.2% at 108.43 against the dollar as of 3:49 p.m. EST.