Abenomics Keeps Sputtering – What To Do?

We have frequently discussed the nonsensical attempt by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and BoJ governor Haruhiko Kuroda to print and spend Japan back to prosperity in these pages. By now it is well known that devaluing the yen has not achieved the desired effect, but rather the opposite. Not only have exports not really received the expected boost, but Japan’s trade and current account surplus have decreased markedly, even posting negative numbers for the first time in decades. Of course, currency debasement never works: it cannot work.

 

 

1-Japan, current accountJapan’s current account over the past two decades.

 

We would like to point out though that a trade or current account surplus is not a measure of a country’s prosperity anyway. So even if the devaluation gambit had “succeeded”, its success would have been meaningless and any positive effects would have been strictly transitory. Japan’s consumers would have suffered just as they are suffering now. As Ludwig von Mises stated with regard to alleged advantages of devaluation:

 

 

“The much talked about advantages which devaluation secures in foreign trade and tourism, are entirely due to the fact that the adjustment of domestic prices and wage rates to the state of affairs created by devaluation requires some time. As long as this adjustment process is not yet completed, exporting is encouraged and importing is discouraged. However, this merely means that in this interval the citizens of the devaluating country are getting less for what they are selling abroad and paying more for what they are buying abroad; concomitantly they must restrict their consumption. This effect may appear as a boon in the opinion of those for whom the balance of trade is the yardstick of a nation’s welfare.

In plain language it is to be described in this way: The British citizen must export more British goods in order to buy that quantity of tea which he received before the devaluation for a smaller quantity of exported British goods.”

 

 

In short, devaluation means securing a strictly temporary advantage for a small sector of the economy – export-oriented companies – while impoverishing all consumers concurrently. In the end, not even the advantages for exporters will be maintained, as domestic prices will inevitable adjust. As strategies for economic revival go, this has to be one of the most moronic ones ever devised. Not surprisingly, the EU’s coterie of economic planners is also fervently in favor of debasing the euro. Especially France’s government has been quite vocal in this respect, which is telling. The situation in the EU at present is this: the ECB has taken the advice of the biggest economic illiterates in political power in the EU.

 

Abenomics has lately suffered additional setbacks. It is “succeeding” only in one respect – the yen’s purchasing power has plummeted. GDP has just declined by 7.1% annualized last quarter, reversing the gains of the previous quarter and then some. Both the previous quarter’s reported growth and the subsequent decline have partly been the result of a sales tax hike, so they have to be taken with a grain of salt. It is however conspicuous that virtually every economic datum released since April has come in “worse than expected” – in many cases, much worse.

 

 

2-japan-gdp-growth-annualizedJapan – annualized quarterly GDP growth rate

 

As a side effect of the sales tax hike as well as the yen’s depreciation, Japan’s consumer price index has begun to soar. Japanese officials play this down by relying on a “core inflation index” that excludes the effect of the sales tax hike, and consequently argue that the inflation rate is still too low. This obviously matters little to the average Japanese citizen, who has seen his real income melt like a pile of snow in the Sahara. It is unfortunately not possible for Japan’s consumers to pay “seasonally adjusted prices ex the sales tax effect”. Statistical artifice cannot alter economic reality.

 

 

3-japan-inflation-cpiJapan’s annual CPI growth rate.

 

Previously, Japanese consumer prices tended to mildly decline from time to time, thereby enhancing the meager incomes of Japan’s growing class of retirees and the incomes of wage earners. Abe and Kuroda have succeeded in impoverishing them. Mainstream economists all over the world are almost unanimous in their approval of this idiocy.

 

 

The Latest Advice

This brings us to the most recent plans and the advice dispensed by assorted bien pensants. Given the recent faltering of Japan’s economy, BoJ governor Kuroda has assured everyone that the central bank stands ready to monetize even more debt. After all, whenever the Keynesian recipe of money printing and deficit spending fails to work, it can only mean that not enough of it has been applied. The fact that it hasn’t worked in 25 years is regarded as clear proof that even more of the same is needed.

 

 

Concern has been mounting over whether the economic recovery will continue and inflation will hit the BOJ’s 2% target sometime next year.

“Should conditions emerge where the target becomes difficult to meet, we are ready to make without hesitation adjustments to policy, additional easing or whatever,” Mr. Kuroda told reporters after meeting Mr. Abe over lunch at the prime minister’s office. The consumer-price index, the BOJ’s policy target, has logged year-over-year rises for 14 straight months and stood at 1.3% in July, excluding the sales-tax rise.

Appearing on TV later in the day, the governor refuted views that there was little room for further easing, given the BOJ’s already massive bond purchases. “I don’t believe that there is a limit to additional easing or that there is nothing more we can do.”

[…]

The Japanese economy contracted an annualized 7.1% in the April-June quarter, as consumers tightened their belts and companies slashed new spending following the three-percentage-point rise in the sales tax to 8%.

 

 

The BoJ’s efforts have blown Japan’s monetary base “off the charts”, but a concomitant reduction in bank credit has meant that very little of this has actually translated into money supply growth – so far, that is.

 

 

4-monetary base, JapanJapan’s monetary base rockets into the blue yonder.

 

 

It must be kept in mind here that this massive rise in the monetary base means that an ever larger share of the fiduciary media in Japan’s banking system have been transformed into covered money substitutes. This makes a deflationary credit collapse less and less likely, and by inference means that the opposite is becoming ever more likely. It cannot be ruled out that faith in the currency one day simply evaporates and that prices will then “catch up” with the monetary inflation that has taken place up to this point.

The main reason why the public’s continued confidence in the currency cannot be taken for granted is the essential Ponzi nature of the BoJ’s debt monetization schemes. By buying ever more government debt with newly issued bank reserves, the government ends up owing more and more of its debt to “itself”. The inherent absurdity of this situation should be obvious.

 

We can deduce from Mr. Kuroda’s comments that he is not at all concerned that anything untoward could happen. After all, it has all gone swimmingly so far. This unawareness on the part of the BoJ’s planners actually heightens the dangers considerably.

 

 

 

5-Japan-M1 st
Japan’s narrow money M1 (demand deposits and currency), roughly equivalent to money TMS-1. Note that in spite of the BoJ’s massive ‘QE’ operations, annualized growth has recently declined to 4% from an interim high of 6% achieved in early 2014. All the same, the money supply is up by a factor of six since Japan’s asset bubble burst in 1990. CPI meanwhile has risen somewhat until 1995 and has essentially flat-lined since then – click to enlarge.

 

 

So what is the advice dispensed to Japan’s policymakers in the financial press? That’s actually a rhetorical question – they are advised to do what they plan on doing anyway. The Nikkei Asian Review has recently been pondering whether Japan’s economy can “afford” another sales tax hike in 2015. It concludes that in spite of the dangers posed by the government’s debt-berg, only more printing and deficit spending can possibly rescue the economy – and there is of course great urgency:

 

 

“Most economists probably feel timid about predicting negative growth at a time when the pros and cons of another consumption tax hike are being discussed. Ryutaro Kono, chief economist at BNP Paribas Securities (Japan), is an exception. He predicts 0.1% negative growth for fiscal 2014.

For many economists who belong to organizations, it seems difficult to make unique and surprising predictions. But importantly, they do not want to see the additional consumption tax hike fall through. If it becomes clear the Japanese economy will post negative growth in fiscal 2014, it will be impossible to discuss another tax increase.

Japan’s fiscal conditions are continuing to deteriorate due to the aging of society. Many economists feel a sense of crisis, fearing that any delay in the additional tax hike would result in the crumbling of confidence in Japan’s fiscal policy.

So, what should be done?

 

The government and private sector should acknowledge the harsh economic situation and then discuss what measures should be taken. It could be possible to implement a supplementary budget, and embark on additional monetary easing as well as accelerate growth strategies.

The government’s Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy is due to start intensive discussions about the state of the economy on Sept. 16. Unbiased discussions and quick actions are more necessary than ever before.”

(emphasis added)

 

To summarize: there is a “sense of crisis” due to the explosion in Japan’s fiscal debt and the danger that confidence in fiscal policy may wane. The best way to counter this is by engaging in more money printing and even more deficit spending (this is what the “implementation of a supplementary budget” means – it means more government spending). This is Keynesian logic and brilliance in all it splendor.

 

 

 

6-Japan-debt-to-GDP plus projectionJapan’s total public debt-to-GDP ratio, including an overoptimistic projection – click to enlarge.

 

 

 

7-japan-government-budget-deficitJapan’s government deficit as a percentage of GDP.

 

 

Conclusion:

We conclude that “more of the same” will remain the agenda until the whole house of cards implodes one day.

 

Charts by: BoJ, St. Louis Fed, trandingeconomics.com

 

 
 

Emigrate While You Can... Learn More

 
 

 

Dear Readers! We are happy to report that we have reached our turn-of-the-year funding goal and want to extend a special thank you to all of you who have chipped in. We are very grateful for your support! As a general remark, according to usually well informed circles, exercising the donation button in between funding drives is definitely legal and highly appreciated as well.

   

Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke

   
 

2 Responses to “The Trials and Tribulations of “Abenomics””

  • No6:

    Gold can’t stay low for much longer, there will be a Bonzai style rush for the metal down the road.

  • TheLege:

    The more you look at Japan the more you realise that hyper-inflation can surely be the only outcome. The danger for the rest of the developed world is that such an outcome will shatter confidence in the other high profile print ‘n spend schemes and the ramifications for financial markets and all economies in this instance scarcely bear thinking about.

    Interestingly, while the short Yen trade has been held by various hedge fund managers to be as close to a sure-fire winner as you can get, Hugh Hendry hinted some time ago that it may be a widow-maker instead, suggesting that we could see USDJPY at 60 to 70. He didn’t elaborate but I’m assuming the sheer scale of Yen shorts (and subsequent unwind in a violent risk-off situation) would be the driver here. One assumes that the Yen would then collapse in short order thereafter.

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • LA5H5981sc
President George W. Bush presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, one of 14 recipients of the 2005 Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2005 in the East Room of the Whiite House.  White House photo by Shealah CraigheadAlan “Bubbles” Greenspan Returns to Gold
      Faking It   Under a gold standard, the amount of credit that an economy can support is determined by the economy’s tangible assets, since every credit instrument is ultimately a claim on some tangible asset. […] The abandonment of the gold standard made it possible for the welfare statists to use the banking system as a means to an unlimited expansion of credit. — Alan Greenspan, 1961   He was in it for the power and the glory... Alan Greenspan gets presidential bling...
  • William SimonEnd of an Era: The Rise and Fall of the Petrodollar System
      The Transition   “The chaos that one day will ensue from our 35-year experiment with worldwide fiat money will require a return to money of real value. We will know that day is approaching when oil-producing countries demand gold, or its equivalent, for their oil rather than dollars or euros. The sooner the better.” Ron Paul   A new oil pipeline is built in the Saudi desert... this one is apparently destined for the Ghawar oil field, one of the oldest fields in Saudi Arabia...
  • Vote Early Zombie at Sharpstown High SchoolWriting on the Wall
      Time to Sell... Maybe BALTIMORE – Yesterday, the S&P 500 hit a new all-time high. And the Dow just hit a new record close as well. If you haven’t sold yet, dear reader, this may be one of the best times ever to do so.   It's still flying... sorta. Meet Bill Bonner's tattered crash flag Image credit: fmh   We welcome new readers with a simple insight: Markets are contrary, pernicious, and downright untrustworthy. Just when the mob begins to bawl most loudly...
  • croesus_av_stater_1Gold – Eerie Pattern Repetition Revisited
      Gold Continues to Mimic the 1970s Ask and ye shall receive... we promised we would update the comparison chart we last showed in late November in an article that kind of insinuated that it might be a good time to buy gold and gold stocks (see: “Gold and Gold Stocks – It Gets Even More Interesting” for the details). We are hereby delivering on that promise.   A Lydian gold stater from the time of the famously rich King Croesus, approx. 570 BC. It seems they already had this...
  • robot tradersA Fully Automated Stock Market Blow-Off?
      Anecdotal Skepticism vs. Actual Data About one month ago we read that risk parity and volatility targeting funds had record exposure to US equities. It seems unlikely that this has changed – what is likely though is that the exposure of CTAs has in the meantime increased as well, as the recent breakout in the SPX and the Dow Jones Industrial Average to new highs should be delivering the required technical signals.  The bots keep buying... Illustration via...
  • Toscana_Siena3_tango7174The Central Planning Virus Mutates
      Chopper Pilot Descends on Nippon Readers are probably aware of recent events in Japan, the global laboratory for interventionist experiments. The theories of assorted fiscal and monetary cranks have been implemented in spades for more than a quarter of a century in the country, to appropriately catastrophic effect. Amid stubbornly stagnating economic output, Japan has amassed a debt pile so vast since the bursting of its 1980s asset bubble, it beggars the imagination.   A...
  • tokyo whaleDestination Mars
      Asset Price Levitation One of the more preposterous deeds of modern central banking involves creating digital monetary credits from nothing and then using the faux money to purchase stocks.  If you’re unfamiliar with this erudite form of monetary policy this may sound rather fantastical.  But, in certain economies, this is now standard operating procedure.   The “Tokyo Whale” Haruhiko Kuroda explains his asset purchase madness with a few neat little slides. Photo credit:...
  • The-Deep-State-Mike-LofgrenAmerica Has Become a “Parasitocracy”
      Dread and Denial So, let’s return to the discussion you can’t have with your congressman, your mailman, or your barmaid. It’s the important one. It concerns what the Fed is really up to.   Eight years after achieving independence, a State modeled after the British merchant state was established in the US. It took a while for the Deep State to consolidate itself within it, a process that was accelerated greatly in the run-up to and aftermath of WW I. Illustration by Ana...
  • London-City-Scene lo rezFat People for Trump!
      Alphas and Epsilons BALTIMORE – One of the delights of being an American is that it is so easy to feel superior to your fellow countrymen. All you have to do is stand up straight and smile. Or if you really need an ego boost, just go to a local supermarket. Better yet, go to a supermarket with a Trump poster in the parking lot.   The protest vote attractor with the funny hair. Image credit: Liberty Maniacs   Trigger warning: In the following ramble, we make fun of...
  • bristlecone-1000x672Long Term Market Perspectives
      Methuselah Tree When looking for a good theme for this post I pondered for a while and then decided to use a picture of a bristlecone pine, which are widely considered to be the oldest living trees in the world.   Ye olde bristlecone Photo credit: Kosta Konstantinidis   You can find them near the Nevada/California border and if you wind up traveling in the area then I strongly recommend that head over to Bishop and from there head up high up into the White...
  • Juncker, Keqiang, Tusk 2EU Sends Obsolete Industries Mission to China
      “Tough Negotiations” The European press informs us that a delegation of EU Commission minions, including Mr. JC Juncker (who according to a euphemistically worded description by one of his critics at the Commission “seems often befuddled and tired, not really quite present”)  and European Council president Donald Tusk, has made landfall in Beijing. Their mission was to berate prime minister Li Keqiang over alleged “steel dumping” by China and get him to cease and...
  • 12109143_10153644062379417_1863326510450484797_nCelebrating 45 Years of Phony Money
      $300 Trillion in Debt DUBLIN – After our trip to Las Vegas, we spent one night in Baltimore and then got on another airplane. Standing in line, unpacking bags, getting zapped by X-ray machines – it has all become so routine we almost forget how absurd it is.     Get ready to be invaded, citizen... Photo by David McNew / Getty Images   While armies of TSA agents pat down grandmothers and Girl Scouts, ex-soldiers take aim at the police... nutcases run...

Austrian Theory and Investment

Support Acting Man

Own physical gold and silver outside a bank

Archive

j9TJzzN

350x200

Realtime Charts

 

Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from www.kitco.com]

 

THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!
 

Oilprice.com